Grades 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 students to return to face-to-face classes in January

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It was announced on Wednesday by Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand 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 Health Ministry grants approval.

Minister Manickchand sounded this intention while speaking at an event 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.

“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 completing the current level,” Minister Manickchand told students.

According to her, Guyana has vaccines for those aged 12 and over. She urged parents who have not yet consented for their children to be vaccinated, to 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, and that 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- which is the minimum age to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

However, she explained that when that cohort is of age, they will be expected back in the classroom fully. She added that the same measures will be applied to the five to 11-year-old pupils when the vaccine becomes available for them.

The Education Minister 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, too, 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.

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