Seismic shockwaves were felt in the educational community, and arguably among parents across the country when a press release was sent out giving schools the “green light” to reopen starting Monday, October 4. While this is not a mandatory reopening, but a suggested reopening as part of a hybrid approach for schools who are deemed ready, it certainly caused a stir among stakeholders and even rattled some. Admittedly, while it has been almost 2 years that students have been out of the classroom and have been missing out on formal education, we are currently marred by an increasing number of Covid-19 infections and death. This increase in cases and death is propelled by a possible community spread which continues seemingly unabated. Put all this together, the Ministry of Education has good intentions, but their timing is horrible!
Without a shadow of a doubt, I fully agree that children have been out of school for far too long and should be able to return soon to face-to-face learning. However, in the face of a raging pandemic, we just don’t act on impulse and enact a knee-jerk reaction by arbitrarily selecting a date and shooting for it. Responsibly, one must assess the situation on the ground and take a full, considerate report on the climate at the time. It would be futile of me to regurgitate the Covid-19 statistics that are reported daily. It is alarming and is of grave concern. The notion that we must learn to live with the virus is not substance enough to go head on into a raging pandemic and put the lives of teachers, students and parents at risk!
While there are mounting demands for a return to in-class (face-to-face) instruction, such demands must be met with and balanced by the facts of the day. We are in an uphill battle against this pandemic, and precious souls are being lost daily to its callous wrath. The infection rate has soared and multiplied exponentially and we are yet to get a real grip on it. Almost 300 infections daily is massive and mustn’t be taken lightly. While indeed there are conditions for reopening and buffers being placed to screen school readiness in terms of infrastructure, demographics and safety measures in place; it takes but one match to burn a forest down — and thus consequently, one infiltration, and the outcome can be disastrous!
While education is very important for the development of a people and a country, what is paramount is the collective safety and well-being of the nation’s populace. The need to return to face-to-face instruction cannot and must not trump the urgent need to control and mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in Belize and provide a sense of safety and security for its populace. While the intentions of the Ministry of Education are indeed good, it cannot be overemphasized how horrible the timing is. This is certainly not an opportune time to reopen schools to in-class (face-to-face) learning. Enacting such a move at this time would possibly be putting the lives of teachers, students and parents at risk; but more so, it would open up “Pandora’s Box” to the possibility of impending disaster!
Unchained Reflections Of A Liberal Pragmatist.