Warm greetings from the Holy Cross Education Foundation Board. As a valued supporter of Holy Cross School you are probably wondering what is happening on the island and at the school in these uncertain times. This is the first of three updates that we plan to send.
As a Board we have “met” on a regular basis using Zoom for nearly two years. As we continue our twice-monthly “meetings” our thoughts and conversation often include mention of those of you who have visited, prayed for and donated to Holy Cross Anglican School. We hope that you and your families are well.
All Belizean schools remain closed
As you may know, all schools in Belize closed on March 20 and were to reopen at the end of Spring Break on April 20. On very short notice teachers and the office staff rallied to provide packets of printed worksheets for each student to take with them so that they had some structured activities to get them through. As the April 20 deadline approached the Ministry of Education extended the suspension of in-person classes through the end of the school year.
Within days of the school closures the Government of Belize closed all borders, including the international airport. Access to San Pedro by either boat or plane was shut down. Until recently all of San Pedro has been on a strict lock-down. Hotels and restaurants were forced to close, construction activity was ordered to cease leaving many Holy Cross parents unemployed.
Thanks to you we can still support Holy Cross Staff
Because of the generosity of many of you during our annual fall appeal we have been able to continue to pay our non-teaching staff (teachers are paid by the Ministry of Education) during this down-time. We have heard from many of these hard-working folks that they are very grateful for this assistance.
The border closures, along with US travel restrictions made it necessary for all volunteer teams scheduled for spring and summer 2020 to cancel their trips. These volunteers and the many people who support them are the life-blood of Holy Cross. They help with many hours of maintenance and provide developmental activities for our students. We count on the donations of school supplies and monetary gifts that they bring with them.
We’re continuing to feed the families of Holy Cross and San Mateo
Food scarcity and lack of access to potable water has been a major issue in San Pedro and especially in the San Mateo neighborhood. The good folks of Hope Haven Community Center have rallied local merchants and many volunteers to provide grocery bags for more than 2,400 families, many of them from Holy Cross. They have also coordinated the distribution of drinking water throughout San Pedro including San Mateo.
The Holy Cross Board recently decided to contribute to the Hope Haven efforts which are providing food and water for many of our students and their families. We are very grateful for the efforts of the Hope Haven staff to coordinate these distributions since the school is not able to provide lunches during this closure.
Belize is free of COVID-19
And…some of the best news is that in early May Belize had the distinction of being the only country in the Americas with NO active cases of COVID-19! As of this writing there have been no new cases identified!
Thank you for your prayers and support of Holy Cross School. We could not meet the needs of our students and families without you.
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