The Newsroom at Love had the opportunity to welcome Maliyah Gentle into our newsroom as part of the International Day of Broadcasting for Children. In collaboration with NCFC, our newsroom worked with the 12-year-old of Grace Primary School as she sat down and interviewed well-known Dr Fernando Cuellar.
Maliyah Gentle, Grace Primary School: Perhaps one sector of the population that was not extremely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Belize was children. At the onset of the virus in March 2020, government officials ensured that schools were closed down and teachers were forced to adjust to online teaching. The data in Belize shows a small number of children who were infected with the COVID-19 virus with the majority of them recovering quickly. According to well known medical internist, Dr. Fernando Cuellar, children are more receptive to changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist: Children are resilient. Children are smart. They understand that they will be able to, have to do things a little bit differently for now. I guess the younger children will be much more challenging but I have seen 2 year olds and 3 year olds use their mask properly out in, when I go out in supermarkets and so on. They don’t seem to be fussing much by using the face mask. Children are known to do a lot of hand washing and know that the benefits of hand washing and know that hand washing, not only for COVID but to reduce infections on a whole. The physical distance, that will be challenging but you must be able to find a way to marry the two, that they could interact but that we won’t be able to do the things right now the same way like how we used to do it.
Maliyah Gentle, Grace Primary School: While children have proven to be resilient, the recent reopening of school will now be required that they readapt to face to face learning. For those just starting out in schools, it will be a whole new way of learning and their first experience in the classroom. Dr. Cuellar spoke on this adjustment saying that there will be some challenges since they were not in school for almost two years.
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist: Of course it made sense not to have the children at school and intermingle. I am very saddened about the fact that we had to. We had to. We were forced to suspend the face to face because of what happened because children lost out. There was a big losing out of not being face to face. I have children myself. I am surrounded by children and I know that the compromise of doing virtual learning and hybrids and all of that was done but it could never have replaced the face to face and I’m hoping, hoping that we can recover. We can get back some of that time and benefit lost.
Maliyah Gentle, Grace Primary School: With COVID-19 still running its course in our community, Dr. Cuellar expressed that the public must still adhere to health/safety protocols.
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist: What has shown this time and it showed the last when it was the last big pandemia in 1980, it was the public health measures that helped the most. What are the public health measures? The same things that you’ve heard many times over and over: wear your face mask properly, wash your hands frequently and that physical distance, quarantine and that was the, that were the factors that stopped the 1980 pandemia that although a lot of lives were lost, hundreds and thousands and so forth, or maybe in the millions, I’m not quite sure of the exact number but that was the most effective way of dealing with the mitigation, with the stopping of the pandemia.
Maliyah Gentle, Grace Primary School: Reporting from the newsroom at Love for International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, I am Maliyah Gentle of Grace Primary School.
Maliyah Gentle also serves on the Child Advisory Board./////