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…as Guyana Government reopens schools
Minister of Education Priya Manickchand on Monday confirmed that eight students of the President’s College have tested positive for Covid-19.
At a news conference the minister disclosed that out of the 139 students being housed at the college’s dorm eight tested positive. She said necessary measures are being put in place to ensure the students are isolated under the Ministry’s care.
Manickchand has also reported that 60 per cent of the 21000 students who were expected to return to school from Grades 10, 11 and 12, reported to school on Monday while almost 100 per cent of teachers reported to work. Manickchand said this data came from five of the 10 regions in which schools were reopened. During the press conference Manickchand said that senior education officials, government ministers and other officers were in the fields all day visiting schools to get a first hand observation on how the
day proceeded with students returning for the first day.
The Ministry of Education, she said, has made provisions for children and teachers who chose to stay home and urged them to stay in touch with the Ministry to benefit from the other platforms that are being available to teach them. “We made it very clear that whatever option you choose, we will support it,” Manickchand said.
Out of the plethora of options available Manickchand said none trumped a teacher in front of the class room interacting with the students and through interaction with teachers and parents across the Regions 1-10, both groups expressed their preference for school to open for the examination levels, including Grades Six. The Ministry however decided not to commence classes for Grade Six in this first phase.
She said significant efforts were put in place to ensure students are safe for their return to school. These include working sinks, flowing water and students and teachers being presented with care packages amongst other things.
In relation to students who need to be housed in school dormitories such as President’s College, students are being tested upon their return. There are approximately 5000 dorm students across the country. The Ministry of Education is working in tandem with the Ministry of Health to ensure that students and teachers remain safe during the phased reopening of schools.
Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson, said that this first phase will set the trend for the return of the entire school population. The intention is not to have a cluster of students attend school at once, which may put them at risk, especially without all the necessary measures in place. “ It’s a process as we go forward, we watch as we learn. Our intention is to keep our eyes on what is happening and as we go forward we intend to learn,” he said, while adding that the nation’s children cannot remain in seclusion forever, as this may have serious long term effects on them individually and on the nation’s progression.
Minister Manickhand said that the last set of children expected to return are the youngest of the school bunch, that is the nursery cohort, which includes students from the nursery and Grades One and Two levels. With these children being little more dependent and likely to not follow instructions, she said extra mechanisms have to be put in place to ensure they return and will be safe. She does not foresee them returning in 2020. “We have to be careful, we have to phase these opening, we have to look at the impact of the opening,” she said.
Relative to the Grade Six pupils, Minister Manickchand did not give a precise date when they will return, but said they will continue to be engaged with the necessary learning materials. She also noted that the National Grade Six Assessment will not be in April/May as is customary.