Schools in Belize to be closed due to low teacher vaccination
BELMOPAN, Belize, CMC – The Belize government has announced the closure of schools effective June 18 “out of an abundance of caution, coupled with the fact that the vaccination rate for teachers is not yet at an adequate level.”
The Ministry of Education, in a memo to the management of schools, said that face-to-face learning for all pre-schools, primary, secondary and Technical Vocational Institutions (ITVETs) will come to an end next Friday.
The Ministry said that while many schools have successfully reopened for in-person classes with strict protocols in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, they are unable to test every teacher before they return to the classroom.
According to the memo, although an estimated 352 schools were approved for face-to-face instruction, it is “not feasible at this time because of the large number of teachers, the waiting time for the test results, if PCR tests are needed, and the uncertainty of which teachers have already been exposed, when there are only three weeks remaining for the academic year.”
The education ministry said the Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to conduct random testing at schools as well as to continue vaccinations at each institution.
The memo also calls for schools to develop special assistance programmes and be reasonable with students who do not meet the requirements to progress to the next grade level.
Earlier this month, Health Minister Michel Chebat urged teachers to get vaccinated ahead of the new school term as Belize health authorities confirmed several positive cases of the virus in schools.
Chebat said that it is even more important that teachers get vaccinated because they are the first line of protection for the children who are expected to return to classrooms for in-person learning in either August or September when schools reopen.
The health minister acknowledged that there is a lot of fatigue by the general public, “but we must continue to adhere to the public health measures.
“We must continue to wear the masks, we must continue with the social distancing, we must continue with the handwashing. It is important to recall that this virus is spread through human interaction and unless we have some control, unless we have the cooperation of the public, we will not be able to defeat this virus.”
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