Teachers want school return pushed back 2 weeks – Barbados
The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is calling on authorities to delay the return to face-to-face classes by two weeks.
The request comes as it says the majority of its membership want continued improvements to school plants before they go back to the classroom.
“The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) has proposed a two-week hold on the February 21 plans to reopen schools across the island, pushing back the date to Monday, March 7,” President of the BUT Rudy Lovell said in a statement late Thursday.
“The decision followed an online meeting with the membership on Thursday. The majority of teachers voted for further improvements to the physical conditions of school plants before a full reopening,” he added.
Lovell noted that although some teachers “were eager to return to the classroom”, the union wanted the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health to “clearly define safety protocols for schools and guarantee the provision of safety materials for students and teachers, including sanitising stations and masks”.
He added that “the metrics are still high with repeatedly high daily cases”. Hundreds of new cases have been reported for the last few weeks.
Lovell said that repairs to the school plant were outstanding and even more pressing because of the spike in COVID-19 infection rates, attributed to the Omicron variant which is known to spread faster than the Delta variant.
“These repairs include proper ventilation, adequate water supply for sanitation and proper spacing for social distancing,” the union boss said.
“Just before and during the pandemic, a walkthrough was done of the schools and assessments were made. We want the ministry to look back at those assessments and complete most, if not all, of the work needed. The BUT will then conduct its assessments and make sure the teaching environment is safe for both students and teachers,” he added.
Stressing that safety was a key concern for teachers, Lovell said that under the Health and Safety Act, it was the union’s duty to ensure all these stipulations are met.