St Vincent officials ponder status of teachers, school to restart
Kingstown – Government is mulling over categorising teachers as frontline workers, which means they would have to be vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to continue in their jobs.
“During this period, I must tell you, I’ve received a lot of messages, people have telephoned me, saying that we must put in the regulations coming up [that are soon to be approved] teachers as those who should be considered frontline workers, just like how we consider nurses and doctors and police and prison officers,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said recently on WE FM.
He said that consideration is being given to putting air and sea port workers in this same category, noting that many of those workers have not been vaccinated.
“Something has to give; something has to give. It cannot continue like this and those of us who are leading, we have to lead,” Gonsalves said.
He said the position of the government regarding teachers and vaccination is the same as it was before La Soufriere erupted explosively in April. Students were scheduled to return to the classroom on April 12, but the volcano erupted three days earlier, disrupting that plan.
Before returning to the classroom, teachers were expected to present their vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test at least once every two weeks.
“And the same position applies . . . . You have to take the vaccine or you take the test. And if you don’t do that, you wouldn’t be allowed on the compound,” the Prime Minister said.
“Look, parents are demanding it and teachers are demanding it. In that case, I mean, it may well be that on Wednesday the Cabinet may decide that in light of the uptick and what is happening that teachers be included as frontline workers.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education on Thursday said it will be implementing a phased reopening of schools from next Monday.
Online/virtual learning at all schools resumes on Monday, to be followed by blended learning (online and onsite) commencing two weeks later on October 18.
Full onsite engagement for all schools will resume at a date to be determined in consultation with the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment.
“The decisions regarding the resumption of classes nationwide have been strongly influenced by the increased cases of COVID-19 in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the established protocols of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment for the safe operation of schools,” the Ministry said in a press statement.
“The ministry anticipates the cooperation of particularly parents and guardians, educators and students during this period of unprecedented challenges to the education system and the country on a whole,” the statement said.
It reminded stakeholders that the health and safety of all Vincentians is vital and said it “strongly urges all concerned to work collectively in adhering to the existing protocols and other measures instituted to combat the crippling effect of the COVID-19 pandemic”. (CMC)