Preparing for a New School Year in Isolation

Welcome to our second update on the status of Holy Cross School and San Pedro. We pray that you and yours continue with good health.

Even though Ambergris Caye remains COVID free, the residents of San Pedro are still required to follow the same protective guidelines for COVID – wear masks at all times, practice social distancing, only 40 people at church or other gatherings. A lot of shops have recently reopened but business is slow which means many locals remain unemployed.

Staying Connected

With all schools closed in Belize to in-person classes our principals, Ms. Tasher and Ms. James and the Holy Cross teachers are working to stay connected as much as possible with the students. The lack of access to technology and the fact that many teachers (and some student’s families) have left San Pedro to be with their families on the mainland has made this challenging. We are finding that the older students, Standard V and VI, are much more likely to have phones and maintain contact with their teachers than the younger students. Mr. Ayoni, one of the Standard VI teachers, stays connected with his class on WhatsApp.

Planning for Fall

The month of June is usually busy in the school office with the registration of our current students for the upcoming fall semester. This process has been complicated with the school closing. Following the policies established by the Ministry of Education regarding the shortened academic year, all students will matriculate to the next grade. Any standardized testing required (PSE for Standard VI and BJAT for Standard III) will be done in the fall. Office manager, Ms. Linda has been at the school working for a few weeks now to move students into the appropriate class assignments.

Planning has begun for the opening of school in August. Ms. Tasher has said that “everything is different.” The Ministry of Education is focused on the basic courses of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic and is considering splitting classes so that ½ of the students attend in the morning and the other half in the afternoon to maintain social distancing. That may present some challenges for our kitchen staff and the lunch program as a whole, but we are confident that with Ms. Rosalia’s leadership they will rise to the occasion.

Mr. Freddy has used the closure to complete maintenance projects that can only happen when students are not on campus like replacing roofing and repairing decking around the school. The materials for these projects had been purchased in anticipation of the arrival of volunteer teams that were scheduled for Easter week and the summer but cancelled due to the corona virus. Since the supplies were on hand, with the help of the school security guard, Mr. Wilton and a Holy Cross parent or two, the work is getting done. Many general maintenance projects normally completed by teams will fall to Mr. Freddy to do.

On a very bright note, with the reduced need for electricity our solar installation is covering approximately 60% of our monthly electricity expense! Thanks to all of you who helped make this a reality!

As we navigate these uncharted times, we humbly thank you for your continued support of the students at Holy Cross.

Blessings,

Brian Ostenso, Board Chair, Minnesota
Jim Bizal, Minnesota; Bob Frady, Virginia; Suzanne Kent, Texas; Jan Lamb, N. Carolina; John McHenry, N. Carolina; Richard and Cindy Shaffer, Ohio; Lonni Skrentner, Minnesota and Belize; Francis and Vernon Wilson, Panama