Govt officials meet to discuss safe reopening of schools

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Minister of Education Priya Manickchand, along with the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony and former Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy met with senior officials within the Education and Health Ministries to discuss matters relating to the safety of students and the eventual reopening of schools.

According to a brief statement from the Ministry of Education, “the best interest of the child is always of paramount importance for the government. An announcement will be made soonest regarding the way forward.”

The team included the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Boyle, Assistant Chief Education Officer (Nursery), Ms. Samantha Williams and Chief Planning Officer within the Ministry of Education, Ms. Nicola Johnson.

Minister Manickchand, immediately after being appointed by President Dr Irfaan Ali on Wednesday, told media operatives that among her top priority would be to consider the safe reopening of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to balance children’s right to be educated with our duty to make sure we protect the people we’ve sworn to serve,” Manickchand had stated.

Manickchand explained that she will examine best practices around the world regarding the reopening of schools amid the pandemic to determine what solution would be best for Guyana.

“If we open schools, how do we go that safely or if we keep the kids home, how do we continue to engage them meaningfully,” she explained.

Minister Manickchand noted that the task is not going to be easy but she is committed to working hard to ensure children’s education is not in jeopardy.

Schools have been closed in Guyana since March due to the pandemic. However, schools have only briefly opened to facilitate key exams for primary and secondary pupils.