The phrase “Back to School” predictably rings across North America every fall as kids return to start their new academic year. However, here in the Dominican Republic, this phrase has been at the top of our minds ever since the pandemic hit over a year ago, shutting down our schools and more.

In April and May, these words are beautifully coming to life as the DR government is allowing schools to switch from distance learning to limited in-person learning in areas where COVID prevalence is lower and schools are prepared with good protocols and adequate spacing.

Eva Russell, one of our oldest schools, was the first to receive returning students on April 6. ANIJA and Palo Blanco passed their local district inspections in mid-April, and Dominican Public Health is now allowing these schools to receive students as well.

With around 50% of all Kids Alive Dominican Republic teachers vaccinated and government inspections in progress, our other schools should be able to follow suit shortly. Though this will begin with small groups of children on campus at a time, we look forward to our increased interaction with them!

Distance teaching over the last six months has been hard, but we have also had many enduring benefits. We have collaborated more with children’s families in the education process, as we have often depended on parents, grandparents, or older siblings to deliver and help with homework. Additionally, many of our teachers – with the help of generous donors – were able to acquire and begin using laptops for lesson planning and even to record and teach lessons that could be delivered on cell phones. Finally, the pandemic has allowed us to improve our social work and community presence.

We are excited to be inviting children back to our school campuses. And after a July vacation for our school staff, our desire is to return to full-day school in August or September, when we hope to be saying “Back to School.” Again!

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