Guyana’s Ministry of Education has announced that schools will be reopened for face-to-face learning on September 6.
During a press conference on Friday, Education Minister, Priya Manickchand, said the disruption of the school system, due to the pandemic, over the last year will have a lasting impact on students.
“The longer we stay out of school, the more likely we are to suffer from severe learning loss and premature school leaving…what it means is that there is a severe loss of the learning that children would have acquired, children who knew certain concepts will forget them, children who have acquired certain skills will not use those skills and the longer we stay out of school, the more exacerbated that will become,”
Manickchand said the Ministry of Health has mandated that all COVID-19 preventative measures, such as mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing be observed. She also said that some schools will be reopened on a rotational basis to allow for adherence to these guidelines.
“Reopening will look very different than it did in September 2019, for the 2019-2020 year, and reopening will look differently for different schools that have different levels, it may look different even for the same levels, the same nursery in the same region. So, one nursery school may open one way and another open another way,” she said.
Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Education Officer (Nursery), Samantha Williams said 41 of 348 nursery schools will be opened to face-to-face learning while the other 307 would be opened on a rotational basis. She said educational engagement in the early years is crucial to a child’s development.
“The nursey education sector is pleased to announce the return to schools for our nursery aged children in safe, protective and conducive spaces. The importance of our return for our babies is embedded in the psychology of learning.”
She explained that five students would be assigned to each teacher to allow for better management of each. Additionally, teachers are expected to engage nursery school students no less than two hours per day and four hours per week.
To ensure that COVID-19 preventative measures are observed and to limit contact, learning packages inclusive of crayons, pencils, building blocks and other learning materials have been prepared for distribution, which students will take along with them whenever they go to school.
For his part, Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson said 44 primary schools across the country will be reopened fully for face-to-face learning.
“That is fundamentally based on space. They could actually accommodate our children, observe the COVID-19 protocols so another 413 which would include 9 annexes will be operating on a rotational basis.”
He further noted that for Grade Six, given the fact that it is an examination class, students will attend school almost daily, while secondary schools will also be reopened but with individual plans.