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Sep 5, 2007

Schools opening delayed but teachers needed now

Story PictureDepending on your particular child care arrangements, the school dislocations caused by two hurricanes in as many weeks have been either a blessing or curse. But whatever your situation, News Five’s Marion Ali reports that for teachers, the time to return to class is now.

Marion Ali, Reporting
Life is getting back to normal for Belizeans following the most recent hurricane threat, but our younger citizens will get a break as the opening of school has been delayed until September 11th. General Manager of Catholic Schools, Clement Wade, says this extension was needed because reorganising his one hundred and twenty-three schools used as hurricane shelters will take some time.

Clement Wade, General Manager, Catholic Schools
“The rest of this week teachers will be going in putting back their stuff back on the walls, carrying up their things, plus some of them will do some cleaning if any building was ever opened.”

Marion Ali
“Were any opened?”

Clement Wade
“I am thinking, none were ever opened in Belize City because they were waiting and waiting noh. So they put all their stuff back together. So hence the children will get an extra week but teachers in reality are working even as we speak to get their stuff back together.”

In Anglican schools things were on a little slower pace since teachers and principals had still not returned to their respective schools by this morning to rearrange their classrooms.

Carol Babb, General Manager, Anglican Schools
“I want like to appeal to all teachers, all Anglican teachers throughout the length and breadth of Belize to kindly report to school immediately. Some of our schools were used as hurricane shelters. Teachers need to get into those schools and prepare for the opening of school. And even if your schools were not used as hurricane shelters I’m asking you to please report to school today, tomorrow and Friday so that we can prepare for the opening of school on Tuesday.”

But while Hurricane Felix may have given children an extra week off, they will eventually have to make up for the lost time.

Clement Wade
“School closes this year at the 14th of December. If we take two days, the 17th and the 18th it still don’t put the children too far into their Christmas break, so the 17th and the 18th. School closes for the Easter I think March 14th also. If we take the 17th and the 18th, it still doesn’t put them into full swing into Holy Week or anything, we still have time. And then school closes the 27th. If we take just the Monday in July, five days have been made up. It can be easily done or it can be done in one pop.”

Carol Babb
“We are going to plan a meeting early next week and decide what we are going to do to make up for the last week that we have lost as a result of this threat.”

Marion Ali
“So what would be your suggestions?”

Carol Babb
“One of my suggestions is that we may need to go an extra week in June.”

Both Wade and Babb agree that making up for the lost week close to the end of the school year next June will not have any bearing on standard six students who will sit the Primary School Exams.

High School students were not as fortunate as they had to return to school today. At Pallotti High, which is used as a shelter, it was business as usual.

Sister Mary Clara, S.A.C, Principal, Pallotti High School
“I got the homeroom teachers along with the students, you know I had to delegate and then I told them that each class will take care of taking back their chairs and desks into their classrooms. And teachers cooperated along with their homeroom students. It’s a team effort on everybody’s part, both the students and the teachers. Everybody had little share to do cause we had to clean up the downstairs too and right now we’re still in a mess.”

Sister Clara said that with some help from local soldiers, the student body and teachers managed to get back to normal classes by this morning.

Sister Mary Clara
“It’s really a problem in terms of putting up shutters and the girls had to take them out and they are all girls you know, and I don’t want them to get hurt because in the end I will be the one responsible for them. And I guess you are aware of it because you did come to this school and you know what it means to pull down and put up shutters.”

Marion Ali
“But you were able to do all this and get back ready in time for today?”

Sister Mary Clara
“Yes we were and I want to thank the Belize Defence Force. I called them yesterday and they came willing to pull down all the shutters for us. That was the reason why we did not have much delay in starting classes.”

Sister Clara did express concern that Pallotti may not be able to operate as a hurricane shelter for much longer as the school’s main building was found to be sinking. As for the free textbooks that government recently distributed to primary schools for dissemination, Catholic Manager Wade says those books were safely put up and there were no losses. Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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