By Abiola Archer
Several teachers and students in Region 10 have tested positive for COVID-19 according to the Chairman of the Guyana Teachers’ Union Region 10 Chapter, Alister Fraser. Some of the schools have remained open while some are currently closed such as the Pine Street Nursery School. Some of the schools that have recorded positive cases in both teachers and students are the Mackenzie High School, the Watooka Day Primary School, the Amelia’s Ward Primary School, the Wismar Hill Nursery School, the One Mile Primary School and the Christianburg Wismar Secondary School. “As COVID- 19 cases went up, the (GTU) determined through their own mechanism of data collection that over 136 teachers and 44 students as of Saturday 8th January 2022, were affected by the virus and every day since the numbers are rising as teachers, students and ancillary staff report their results” Fraser said.
While some of the schools were not officially closed, some teachers, given the situation, have advised parents not to send their children to school. Fraser said data is collected everyday as teachers who have exhibited symptoms get tested. Many teachers turned out to work on Monday, even as the GTU called for an isolation day, while some opted to stay home. The percentage of students who turned out is below 50.
At the Christiansburg Wismar Secondary School (CWSS), one teacher said the students had to be placed on rotation to tackle overcrowding and she is of the belief that the overcrowding during the first week of the term, resulted in several students and teachers contracting the virus.
When INFO 10 contacted the Regional Executive Officer Dwight John, for a comment on what systems are being put in place to ensure the safety of teachers and students attending the schools that have recorded positive cases, John said the schools were fumigated for the beginning of the Easter Term and further sanitisation measures will be taken for these schools. He said the sanitisation facilities at these schools are all functioning such as handwashing sinks.
Meanwhile parents have taken mixed positions on whether face to face learning should continue. “I believe that they should close schools, I am not comfortable with my children going to school with the spike in cases, it is not safe, no proper system is being put in place,” Deslain Peters said.
“For me, COVID is not going anywhere, we can’t close schools forever, we have to live with it because we are complaining that the schools must be closed but we still have our children mixing, playing in neighbourhoods, going around without mask, we just need to work along with the system,” a parent of Watooka Day School said.
Minister of Education Priya Manickhand said that face to face learning should continue since the horrid effects of prolonged absence from school has been repeatedly studied and documented, including by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
All the reports in the world say that school needs to be the last place to close, and the first to re-open as COVID-19 will not go away soon.
“The ministry will continue to do what is asked of us by the majority, while allowing for space for parents who don’t agree with the majority to do what is best for their children,” Minister Manickchand said.
She was also quick to point out that engaging ‘Online’ in Guyana means that more than half the school population will go without an education because of no or poor Internet infrastructure
One dead, one injured as police open fire in Wisroc
Region 10 Tourism Committee elects new executive
Teachers, students attacked by armed teen gang at Harmony Secondary School