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Slowing the spread of coronavirus and resuming classes will prove difficult in Haiti

By Sam Bojarski and Rachele Viard

As a result of measures the government is taking to slow the spread of coronavirus, many students in Haiti may have to learn virtually. These students face electricity challenges, minimal space at home to attend classes, as well as lack of access to computers and the internet. 

Earlier this week, Haiti’s Ministry of National Education announced that classrooms should not contain more than 30 students, while recommending a distance of one meter between children. The ministry also recommended that schools with larger class sizes hold courses in rotation, with groups of students attending class in-person on three designated days of the week. Morning and afternoon shifts were also an option for schools. 

Photo by Georges H. Rouzier

Haiti has recorded more than 7,300 coronavirus cases, although these numbers are likely a significant undercount. As of July 20, the country is no longer in a state of emergency, which the government declared in March, in response to coronavirus.

“To work online and provide classes via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or on Google is a utopia here in Haiti,” said Michelle, a school director in Port-au-Prince, who declined to provide her real name for fear of political repercussions. 

Disruptions have plagued Haiti’s schools for nearly a year, as schools shut down first in response to last fall’s political protests – a shutdown known as “peyi lok” – then in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic in March. On average, schools operated for about 70 of the 120 days required for a full school year. 

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Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski has been covering Haiti and its diaspora for The Haitian Times since 2018. He is currently covering New York's Haitian community as a Report for America corps member.
Sam Bojarski
Aug. 03, 2020