Once again there is hustle and bustle, laughter, and great joy dwelling within the confines of Colegio Bethel. The COVID alert table forced the school to be closed for on campus classes since Saturday, March 27, but this past Monday, May 17th, the schools in San Pedro were allowed to reopen! Though the restrictions are greater, by the grace and mercy of God, we have been able to make the proper adjustments in the classrooms, schedules and meeting areas and even pass the required re-opening inspection with 97 out of 100 points.
Just imagine, Colegio Bethel’s classrooms were designed to accommodate 30 students, however, with the current Government enforced restrictions, they now can only accommodate 8 students all of whom must wear masks and face shields and learn to keep an even greater spacing distance between them. Please do not get me wrong, it is not with sarcasm that I write these words, but rather with great sadness, through tear-filled eyes and at the same time with joy and happiness to be able to see them walk through the doors each morning.
But how can we continue the education of 262 students with 13 full time teachers, a 6-hour school day and only 8 students in a classroom? Thanks to the conviction of directors, the sharing of spaces, the converting of all possible areas into classroom spaces, prioritizing classes and adjusting class schedules, Colegio Bethel teachers can adequately attend to all their students each day of the week. We may not be able provide the same number of hours per course, but the limited number of students compensates for that loss. Our greatest obstacle is maintaining distancing requirements; can anyone keep classmates, good buddies, pre-school kids, and even teachers from getting “too close” to each other? If anyone reading this knows the secret, we would love to hear from you!
As an end to this newsletter article, I would like to thank all of you for your continued support of Colegio Bethel. Your love, care, and concern for us are evidenced through the fact that God continues to allow this school to remain and with the same convictions it began with. I would also like to leave you with a prayer request. Please pray for the approval of Colegio Bethel’s request to the Ministry of Education to remain open for classes during all COVID alerts except the red alert. Without this approval we could be shut down or remain open every 15 days…when we are closed, we continue education with online classes. Though we are prepared for each type of education, the changes have negative affects on the level of education the students can attain.
Listen with your heart to the words of one of my students from this week’s class: “Miss Pam, can I walk with you to fill my water bottle at the water fountain?” “Sure, you just need to get permission from the director to go to the other building with me”. He quickly went to the office and returned with a positive response. As we walked to the other building he said: “Miss Pam, I want to share something with you, I want to tell you that I am really happy that we are physically back in class.” Me too, I said. And he continued: “I want to tell you why, Miss Pam”. With all his heart and a great smile, he said: “It is because today is the first class I understood since we started having on-line classes, I hope we don’t have to do that again”.
I recognize that my online classes were very difficult for the majority of my students, not because I could not or was not prepared, but because my heart ached from the moment I saw my students in a little square on the screen of my computer…some with computers, some with computers and phones because their computers do not have cameras, some just phones, some with faces struggling to hear what is being said, some who struggled receiving and returning assignments…I know that not everyone will always have everything they need, nonetheless San Pedro is unable to provide what is needed for adequate on line education, yet that is the alternative we are faced with. Please continue to hold us in prayer as we await the approval of our request and seek the Lord God for His direction.
Update: Since the beginning of June, San Pedro has changed to orange alert and then to red alert. Classes have gone online, again. The COVID table alert changes every two weeks as information from the Ministry of Health is released. Please pray that we may remain in yellow alert longer for the safety of the students. Thanks.