Over the past six months, each of Pueblo a Pueblo’s sponsored students has been getting accustomed to the new academic year. Traditionally, the Guatemalan academic year begins in January, but due to COVID-19 interruptions that prolonged the end of the previous year, this year’s classes began in mid-February.
Starting in March of 2020, the Guatemalan government ordered all schools to switch to remote learning, a change that ushered in many challenges for our sponsored students. Johanny, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Primary Education Scholarship Project Manager explained that some of the biggest challenges students faced were a lack of internet access, food insecurity, and the emotional turmoil of such an uncertain time.
With the support of sponsors and donors like yourself, Pueblo a Pueblo has been able to continue supporting students throughout this difficult time, providing hygiene kits, distributing school supplies, and delivering emergency food baskets to vulnerable families. While our library programs are currently paused due to the pandemic, teachers are prioritizing reading and literacy skills during in person instruction.
We are proud to have supported our sponsored students and their families through such a challenging year, and are committed to continuing to do so as we enter into 2021. This year, our students are beginning a new phase of the COVID-19 academic plan in Guatemala. Primary school students are attending “hybrid classes” where 2-3 days of instruction each week are in person, and the other days are remote. Each grade level is grouped into “bubbles” of ten students that rotate through weekly schedules of alternating in person and remote learning in accordance with government safety guidelines.
Although this hybrid learning is not a complete return to “normalcy,” students and teachers alike are thrilled to be back in the classroom in some capacity. In a rural community such as Santiago Atitlan, where internet access is scarce, the ease of communication that comes with in person instruction is vital to the continued academic success of our sponsored students. Pueblo a Pueblo has provided each of our students with the school supplies they need to begin this academic year, and has been checking in with families as they navigate hybrid learning.
We are very excited that our students have the opportunity to safely return to the classroom where teachers, academic support, and learning enrichment materials are more readily available to them. As we continue to work through the persisting challenges related to COVID-19, we remain steadfast in our mission to empower students to learn and grow as change makers in their communities. We are looking forward to supporting our students through this next phase, and are extremely grateful for your help in making that a possibility!