Approximately sixty-three percent (63%) of the nation’s teachers are vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease and Education Minister Priya Manickchand is urging others to take their doses of the available vaccines.
At a news conference on Friday at the National Centre for Educational Research Development (NCERD), Minister Manickchand said the “soft approach” taken by the Ministry towards teachers getting vaccinated cannot continue. She noted that while the Ministry worked in the past with the educators to ensure they can have easier access to the vaccines, some are still reluctant.
“If people are not vaccinated, then this will be something that lives with us forever as a result of which we need to find people who can deliver face-to-face education and that is as frank as I can get, as candid as I can be,” she said adding that beyond the classrooms, unvaccinated teachers are already barred from entering other countries where they may be required to mark examination papers and public facilities.
The Ministry of Education in September commenced the reopening of schools in a phased manner but two months into the school term, Minister Manickchand said the limited time in the classroom is not enough to teach multiple students. As such, she is urging Teachers, parents and eligible students to get vaccinated.
“Right now, parents can tell you, with the rotations, sometimes their children are seeing schools one single day per week. First of all, we believe one day is better than no day but one day could never be what is best for our kids so we need to be able to get back in larger numbers and get back to a more normal system,” she said.
Minister Manickchand noted that while online learning is being used by many schools, it is not as effective as face-to-face learning. She added that “there are serious limitations and distractions outside of the infrastructural needs and requirements that apply and attend to sole internet and online delivery of education.”
Some teachers in the past, have requested the Pfizer vaccine which was only available to adolescents. However, recently the brand of vaccine was made available to adults who are interested.
The Pfizer vaccine was received emergency approval from the US FDA and the CDC for children ages 5- 11 years old. With the rolling out of this batch of vaccine, the Ministry hopes schools can be kept open for longer periods.
While there are no current measure restricting unvaccinated students from entering schools, Minister Manickchand told reporters on Friday that “everything is reviewable.”
According to the Ministry of Health, 27,671 adolescents have been vaccinated with their first dose while 18,636 have received both doses of their vaccines thus far.
As of Friday, Guyana recorded 35,993 cases of the COVID-19 disease since March 2020 and 933 deaths.