The Ministry of Education is moving ahead with the reopening of schools to face-to-face learning on September 06, 2021. This will be done with “individualised plans” for each school. As such, the Education Ministry urging teachers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It is also advising parents to consent for their children 12 years and older to do same.
“We take this opportunity to urge those teachers who have not yet taken a vaccine, to use this period, before the reopening of school to visit a vaccination site and be administered one of the available COVID-19 vaccines,” the Ministry said in a statement on Monday evening. In a second statement, it urged parents to give consent for their children to be vaccinated.
“Whilst vaccination of children will not be mandatory, we are urging parents to consider the benefits that this vaccine will provide to their children and consent to the vaccine being administered to their children,” it noted. Parental consent forms for this vaccine have been delivered to schools and can be downloaded from the Ministry’s website at: https://education.gov.gy/covid-vaccine.
The first batch of the Pfizer vaccine for teens is expected to arrive in Guyana on Tuesday, one day after it was fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States of America. The Ministry of Health currently has the Astra Zeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines available for the adult population.
Vaccine hesitancy still exists among teachers and for this reason, the Ministry has provided contact numbers for three doctors as follows: 650 – 2289 (Dr. Farah December), 650 – 2308 (Dr. Oneka Scott) and 650 – 2312 (Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton), to respond to their concerns.
However, the Education Ministry has stated that “teachers who do not wish to be administered any of the above-mentioned vaccines will be required to submit a negative PCR test once a week. This test is to be done at an approved private facility. Teachers who do not report for duty will be marked absent.”
These measures also apply to the ancillary staff of each school (cleaners, administrative and other support staff). These measures will be captured in the next Gazetted Order for the new month.
The Ministry said it will provide to all teachers face masks, face shields, sanitizing agents (environ) and spray bottles to assist in ensuring they are safe upon their return to the classroom.
All schools were closed to face to face teaching in March 2020 when Guyana started recording positive COVID-19 cases.
The individualised plan for reopening of schools “will be informed by all the science and learning about COVID 19 including social distancing, sanitizing and mask wearing will benefit from the input of teachers and the Parent-Teacher Associations of each school and will be announced in the coming days,” the Ministry said.
Parents who choose not to send their child to school on the days they are scheduled to attend will be enjoined with the responsibility of ensuring that child is continuously engaged at home and, to this end, will be able to access all of the Ministry’s materials on its website.