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Schools may reopen after Easter holiday to avoid long-term learning loss

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 February 2021, 22:01 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of  Education Priya Manickchand on Saturday announced that face-to-face teaching in classrooms may resume after the Easter holiday after government intensifies its COVID-19 vaccination programme during March.

She said the Education Ministry would not take any decision without directions from the Ministry of Health. Among the steps she said that are being taken is a “comprehensive vaccination programme” during next month.

“Once that goes smoothly and as planned, we anticipate that we are going to reopen school some time after the Easter holiday not too long after. Please remember I ‘m saying that, while that is the intention and it would be our desire, that would depend on further advice from the Ministry of Health about how well the vaccination roll-out happened and how successful they were with the numbers they anticipated they wanted to reach,” she said in a video release.

Easter Sunday and  Monday are April 4 and 5, 2021.

Guyana will in early March receive 80,000 doses of  a COVID-19 vaccine from India.

For the time being, the Education Minister said only Grades 10, 11 and 12 (Forms 4,5 and 6) students would continue to attend schools in person.

Most schools across Guyana have been closed for almost one year now since the outbreak of the coronavirus, COVID-19, that has claimed almost 200 lives so far.

Ms. Manickchand said Guyana’s decision to reopen school doors possibly after Easter is in keeping with international best practice for students of all levels to get back in the classrooms and stem the long-term impact of no physical classes.

“The research suggests that the longer schools stay closed, the more long-term disadvantages we’ll have, the more students are likely to drop out, the more students are likely to suffer from learning loss or severe learning loss,” said Ms. Manickchand.

She noted that blended teaching-learning methods , including worksheets and activities, could not substitute for face-to-face engagement between students and teachers.

“We know that none of those, even a combination of them will not replace the value of a trained teacher in front of the classroom but that is what we did in the absence of being able to go back to school,” she said.

The  Minister of Education noted that a number of schools have already opened fully.