BELMOPAN, Belize – Belize has shelved plans for the return of students to classrooms for face-to-face tuition for the new academic year after the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) recommended that schools at all levels begin in full distance learning mode.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MoECST) said it has received the formal recommendations of the MOHW regarding the start of the academic year 2021-22.
The statement by the ministry said that as a response to the current rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases countrywide, it respects this recommendation and therefore advises that, as outlined in the school calendar for government and grant-aided schools, classes will commence on Monday, August 23 for secondary schools and Monday, August 30 for pre-primary and primary schools.
“Classes at all pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels will resume via distance mode,” the statement said, adding that “face-to-face instruction will begin when it is deemed safe to transition into hybrid learning”.
The statement said that both the MOHW and MoECST are encouraged by the imminent arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, which will be available for all students aged 12 to 17 years old.
“Information related to the rollout of this vaccine will be available shortly, and an anticipated high number of vaccinated students and teachers will help to ensure that safe face-to-face instruction can resume more quickly.
“The MoECST is very aware of the financial challenges facing families. Schools are asked to work with families to ensure that no student is denied access to an education because of the inability to meet school fees.
“Schools are reminded to ensure that proper Learning Continuity Plans are in place to facilitate distance learning. MoECST stands ready to support schools in all their efforts to make education work for Belize,” the statement added.
As of Monday, Belize has recorded 344 deaths and 15, 010 positive cases of the coronavirus since the first case was registered in March last year.