School is open... but not like normal

The first day of the school year was September 7, and the Ministry of Education announced that all preschools and primary schools nationwide would start distance learning on that date. We are excited to be teaching again!

To bring you up to speed, our previous update described how schools had been about to reopen, but this was delayed as a wave of Covid-19 swept the country, forcing Ambergris Caye into a second 4-week lockdown.

That lockdown has now been lifted as case numbers have dropped significantly. The island was reopened earlier than expected as in early September Hurricane Nana aimed straight for Belize. Fortunately the island was spared when the hurricane headed slightly south, causing crop damage but no loss of life.

Read on to find out what distance learning looks like in Belize, how the lockdowns have affected families around the country, and how some of your favorite local businesses are coping.
September Celebrations
September is a time of celebration in Belize! Usually we celebrate the birth and Independence of our nation through parades, street parties and fireworks. This year celebrations moved online and encouraged people to unite against adversity, just like our ancestors did for the Battle of St George's Caye so many years ago. An Independence Day golf cart parade through town added some festive atmosphere.

In addition to national celebrations, Holy Cross marked its birthday. 14 years ago we opened with just 3 classrooms.

We've overcome many challenges since then and we'll overcome many more!
What school reopening looks like in Belize
Primary schools have reopened nationwide under a paper based distance learning model. Our hardworking and adaptable teachers worked very diligently between the end of the lockdown/hurricane and the first day of school to prepare learning packets for the first day of school, which parents were able to collect and take home.

It was a first day back like no other. Masked teachers sat alone in empty classrooms full of evenly spaced desks. Still, teachers were happy to be back and excited to start!

Currently the Ministry of Education has said that distance learning will continue throughout September, with an assessment made later this month to determine whether distance or in person learning will occur in October.

Principal Olivia Tasher described preparations to reopen as the hardest in all her years of teaching. Beside the obvious difficulties of massive change with uncertain timelines, a large part of the difficulty came from having to interact with so many people online in a culture where effective communication mainly takes place face-to-face.

Despite challenges, all has gone well. Our teachers were more than ready to return to the classroom, and look forward to a time when they can once again teach face to face.

When asked about the new style of teaching, they described it as being challenging, but they were adapting and overcoming the challenges.

All teachers described the parents as being very helpful and involved. Parents are faithfully collecting the learning packages and doing their best to support students. An unexpected bonus is that teachers are getting to know parents much better, while parents have a higher awareness of what their students are learning.

Our teachers are also adapting well to the whole new challenge of all working parents at this time - having to do their own job during the day, then come home to help their children learn.

How are local businesses and families?
Economically, the second lockdown and delayed opening of the airport has been difficult for businesses and families, though everyone is positive and making the best of it.

Restaurants have remained open for take-out, street vendors were able to keep working as long as they were on private property, and fishing has reopened. The government ran a grocery assistance program during lockdown, assisting hundreds of families on the island.

Local families found the enforced separation during lockdown very hard, but remained diligent about social distancing. Those I talked to were managing despite the economic challenges. Belizeans are a resourceful people!

I took a look at how favorite local businesses are doing, including Estel's, Waruguma, and DandE’s Frozen Custard. Click here to find out more.

The International Airport will reopen for tourism on October 1.
Once again, thank you for your ongoing interest and support of Holy Cross School in Belize. Please continue to pray for the people of Belize, especially that parents would find employment and be patient with their children, and that teachers will be kept safe from Covid-19.

From the team at Holy Cross Anglican School.
Holy Cross Anglican Primary School| |