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Education Ministry examining isolated reopening of schools

Education Minister Priya Manickchand on Thursday disclosed that the Government is examining isolated reopening of schools in some Regions. This follows concerns raised by parents and leaders in selected communities.

During a press conference at the National Center for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), she noted that for example, “in Region Nine, we have had…entire village has written to us, the Toshao, the parents and everybody said ‘we want to reopen, we’re fine, we haven’t had COVID in our village or we haven’t had COVID in our village for a long time, we are going to church, we are playing sports on the field, we’re collaborating and communing under the pavilion and the benabs and so why are you keeping us out of schools?”

Given the arguments presented, the Minister said the matter is under consideration and isolated reopening can go ahead once approval is granted by the Ministry of Health.

Guyana confirmed its first COVID-19 case on March 11, 2020 following the death of a woman who travelled from New York, USA earlier that month. Subsequently, the Government closed all schools to face-face-face learning.

On November 9, 2020, schools were reopened to Grades 10, 11 and 12 students to prepare for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).

On Thursday, the Minister has announced that while there have been isolated cases of COVID-19 among teachers and students who returned to the classrooms, there have only been one instance of community spread at Waramadong in Region Seven. However, this was contained she said.

Minister Manickchand also announced that the Ministry will be moving ahead with the sitting of the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) in August 2021 but noted that schools for these students will not resume at this time.

The Government has begun vaccinating its general population against COVID-19 starting with frontline workers and senior citizens; this immunization programme may positively impact the reopening of face-to-face learning.