Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand on Wednesday announced that come January 2022 when the new school term begins, all Grade 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 students will be expected to return fully to physical all-day classes once the ministry of health approves.
Minister Manickchand sounded this intention at the launch of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) being offered at the West Demerara Secondary School.
The Education Minister said that using the rotation, shift and blended learning methods are not producing encouraging results and that a continuation of these practices will not properly prepare children for examinations and movement to the next level.
She said, “The school doors will not be locked to students who are not vaccinated. But, we can no longer continue with the level of distancing that we have been doing. We can’t finish the curriculum and if we can’t finish the curriculum we are failing you. It means you are going into that examination room without knowing what is on that paper or onto the next level without competing the current level.”
According to Minister Manickchand, Guyana has vaccines for all the Guyanese aged 12 and over. She urged that parents who have not yet consented for their children to be vaccinated, use the time between now and January to do so. Even with this urging, the Education Minister made it clear that students who are not vaccinated will not be locked out of school.
She said that students will continue to be sanitised, soap and washbasins will be provided along with masks to ensure the safety of students. Minister Manickchand said that if a child chooses not to attend physical classes, the Ministry will make all its resources available online and that parents will have to take the responsibility to ensure that material is used wisely.
As it relates to the Grade 7 students, Minister Manickchand said that they will not be allowed back into school as yet because many of them are not yet 12 years old (the minimum age to receive the Pfizer vaccine). However, she said that when that cohort is of age, they will be expected back in the classroom fully. She said that the same measure will be applied to the five to 11-year-old pupils when the vaccine is available for them.
Minister Manickchand said that Guyana is fortunate to have a variety of vaccines that are available for free to adults and adolescents. She said that though vaccination is not mandatory and that Government will respect the choices of those who refuse to be vaccinated, the country and its education system can no longer wait on the people who one year later cannot decide on taking the vaccine. She said that the mandate of the Government and the Ministry of Education is to do what is in the best interest of the nation’s children.