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Reopening of several schools delayed in the aftermath of Hurricane Lisa

HighlightsReopening of several schools delayed in the aftermath of Hurricane Lisa

Photo: Belize Elementary School roof ripped off

The Ministry of Education, in addition to releasing an official list of schools approved for delayed reopening, stated on Sunday that it is the only legal authority with the power to cancel or suspend classes.

by Khaila Gentle

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 7, 2022

Homes and businesses throughout Belize City have been severely affected by Hurricane Lisa, and the same can be said for quite a number of schools as well. Those schools have since received approval from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology to delay reopening in order to allow for any necessary cleaning and restoration.

On Sunday, the Ministry issued a press release notifying the public that classes would resume as normal on Monday, November 7, for all schools, including those in the Belize District, that are able to open safely. Some twenty-seven schools, however, two of which are in Belmopan, have been granted a transition period of up to one week ahead of reopening.

Most of those schools will be reopening in the next two to three days, but three of them will have a delay period of seven days. Gwen Lizarraga High School, Holy Redeemer RC Primary School, and St. Luke’s Methodist Primary School are not scheduled to reopen until Monday, November 14.

While some schools emerged unscathed following the passage of Hurricane Lisa, a few others sustained damages which, according to the Ministry, may take weeks to repair. This was confirmed following structural assessments carried out by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing. A few other schools served as shelters during the hurricane, and as such will need to undergo cleaning and other preparations before they can reopen.

In addition to structural damages to their classrooms, many teachers have also found themselves personally affected by the storm. In response to this, the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), has been putting together a list of those in need of support and assistance.

“Those teachers are also asked to communicate with their principals to be allowed days off to take care of their personal affairs. These teachers will not be required to apply for UPAs; permission will be given through principals and management,” said the Ministry on Sunday.

In its two-page press release, the Ministry addressed the fact that returning to normal immediately following a disastrous event such as a hurricane is no easy feat, including for students. The Ministry says that it recognizes that many students have been impacted and some may not be able to attend school because they have lost their home, clothing, or books and may even be suffering from trauma. Counseling and psychological services will be provided to any teacher or student in need.

“The ministry understands the importance of taking care of both physical and mental health, especially,” said the release.

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