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Manickchand hints at returning to face-to-face learning next term

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand at Tuesday’s event at the Pegasus Hotel, Guyana. 

With the Ministry of Health set to commence the rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 years old children from Friday, Education Minister Priya Manickchand has signalled plans for the return to full face-to-face learning.

At a National Symposium on Tuesday morning at the Pegasus Hotel, the Minister said “sooner rather than later, we are going to go back to a full return to the classroom.”

The Ministry resumed in-person classes on a rotational basis in September. The next school term will begin in January of 2022. While the Minister did not provide a date for the full reopening of schools, she noted that “I don’t think an entire term will pass –and I want to be very very clear about that, I don’t think another term will pass with us staying home and being out of school.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on November 2, 2021, granted approval for children ages 5 through 11 to get a low-dose COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

As a result, Guyana’s Ministry of Health commenced training health workers to vaccinate the younger age group using 1/3 of the dose administered to adults. On Friday, this vaccination rollout will commence with a cluster approach whereby students of specific schools will be required to visit a nearby school to receive their vaccine.

Minister Manickchand said appropriate time will be given to be vaccinated following which students will return to the classroom.

“On Friday, the Ministry of Health is going to launch its 5-11 campaign for vaccination… which means the Pfizer vaccine will be available Nursery through Primary. We are giving the appropriate time to allow for everyone to get that vaccine and then we are going back into school; once the time has passed, we are going back into schools,” she stated.

The Education Minister pointed out that COVID-19 is not going away and it is becoming evident that the country will not be able to acquire 100% vaccination since some persons are still hesitant.

She noted that “it’s going to be here with us like Polio, Malaria and the common Flu, and we’re probably not going to get 100% vaccination so hard decisions will have to be made. As it stands right now, every person 12 years and older can access vaccines for free.

“Parents chose not to give their children –and look I don’t think this is an easy decision, I know how worried we all are, I know how cautious people prefer to take it, I understand it is never going to be easy but if we waited for next year September to go back fully, we will have the same number of people who have taken the vaccine and some not taking it.”

She emphasized that whatever decisions are taken are being done in the best interest of the nation’s children.

According to the Ministry of Health, a total of 19,536 Guyanese have taken both doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while 28,345 have taken the first dose of the vaccine.