To say that the year 2020 has been a challenging one is an understatement. Never in my thirty- eight years as an educator has there been anything like it. Each day since the emergency closing of all schools in Belize on March 20th has brought both obstacles and rewards as it has in most places around the world.
In June, as a nation we went from celebrating 60 days of no new Covid-19 cases to a significant uptick in infections. Our international airport was closed for six and a half months completely cutting off tourists who support the island economy. At Holy Cross we have missed the smiling faces and energy of the many mission team members that enrich the lives of our students and teachers as well as support our school financially.
The challenges have been significant. As the lockdown continued many Holy Cross families left Ambergris Caye for mainland Belize to stay with extended family where the cost of living is lower. This made communication difficult. Several teachers do not own or have access to computers. Internet access is costly and unreliable. Many parents, charged with assisting their children with lessons, do not speak or read English.
Yet, we have persisted. The Holy Cross teachers have been strong in their commitment to their students and to helping each other. They have been on campus working diligently since August 10th but had to break when the island was placed on mandatory lock down on August 13th due to our country’s second wave. School officially opened with remote learning on September 7th. Lessons are being cooperatively planned in teams at each grade level. The government of Belize mandated the use of paper-based packages for remote learning in all primary schools since majority of the homes don’t have access to internet services. Weekly study packets are prepared for every student. This means printing and collating more than 6,000 pages every week. Parents have responsibly picked up and returned these packets completed by their children.
The Holy Cross Education Foundation has provided stability during this time of uncertainty. I have always known that I could count on support from Mr. Brian (Ostenso, Board Chairperson) and the Board members. A new copier was purchased along with the required toner. Chromebook computers were loaned to the teachers who didn’t have their own. Contributions to the local food pantry assured that many Holy Cross families had food to eat.
The challenges remain but so does the inspiration. I proudly watch how God has brought people together to ensure that Holy Cross students continue to receive their education. I know that COVID•19 has increased needs everywhere. If you are able, we would be blessed by your support.
Olivia Tasher, Principal
In this critical year, your donations to the Holy Cross Education Foundation are especially important.