BELIZE CITY, Fri. Mar. 26, 2021– Last week the Minister of Education broke the news that face-to-face schooling would resume as early as April 12, 2021 for some schools, and the public response has been mixed. Two individuals who are fully on board with the reopening of schools are the Minister of Human Development, Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, and the Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children, Rossana Briceño.
During a press conference last week, Hon. Balderamos Garcia spoke about several social issues, such as the Grocery Bag Program. Additionally, though, Hon. Balderamos Garcia spoke on the matter of children being back in the classroom and the apprehension and resentment that some parents have felt after learning about the resumption of classroom learning in April.
Hon. Balderamos Garcia remarked, “We have to learn English in this country, yo know. They said a phased approach to reopening of the schools beginning on the twelfth of April; it never say all schools and all teachers are forced back into the classrooms on the twelfth of April. When the schools are ready; when they have dey wash basin and dey hand sanitizers and soap and physical infrastructure that they can open, then they will open.”
She further stated, “And I have every confidence in Miss Maheia and Minister Fonseca that they will make the right decisions. Since you have given me the opportunity, I would like to call on the teachers for full cooperation. I was looking at an interview last night of a teacher. Very big respect to her, but it almost sounded to me like she was speaking out of both sides of her mouth, because on one side she was saying we noh ready, and on the other hand she said ‘well, I love my babies and I ready to take them back and for us to get going because our babies have to get back to school.’ Even if we call them babies, right up to the age of eighteen, let’s get our children back in school.”
For her part, the Special Envoy, who is also the principal of St. Peter’s Anglican School in Orange Walk, assured the public that there is no need for alarm, because the process is not mandatory. Briceño, who is the wife of Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, and worked on the COVID-19 Education Task Force, says that the initiative is a work in progress:
“Yes there are phases, phase one and phase two, which are not mandatory, and I think our families need to understand that it is not you have to do this. The schools don’t have to do anything. We were looking that schools, parents, can test-run what they already have in place to see if it works or if it doesn’t work so that when we start in June, they are more than ready. So that is basically what we are looking at. I know there is a lot of confusion out there and assumptions that, oh, but we are not ready and dehn di throw this pan we right now. No, this is a work in progress. This has been happening from last year, through the D.E.C.s where we had to put learning continuity plans in place. Every couple months, they want us to tighten it and tighten it. The Minister has said, and it is being said over and over, there is no one-size-fits all. So dehn noh wah give yo wah template and say everybody must meet this. But you know what your needs are, in your community, in your school, so you adapt to what your environment is, what your school culture is,” said Briceño.