Hundreds of teachers, on Sunday, voted not to return to the classroom on Wednesday for what education officials are calling “professional development purposes”.
The teachers have dismissed this as a pretext to pressure them to take a COVID-19 vaccine amidst relatively low uptake in the country, where the government is hoping to administer 40,000 doses over the next few weeks.
At the virtual meeting, convened by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU), educators expressed a willingness to return to the classroom on April 12, the date for the conditional reopening of school for the first time this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
President of the SVGTU, Oswald Robinson did not disclose to iWitness News the outcome of the meeting when we contacted him at 10:50 a.m. on Monday, saying a press release would have been issued later on Monday.
He told iWitness News at 8:36 p.m. Monday that the press release would be circulated to the media on Tuesday morning.
However, a source with knowledge of the meeting told iWitness News that close to 500 teachers attended the virtual talks and many of them gave various reasons for not wanting to return to the classroom on Wednesday.
“The plan to vaccinate teachers during that period is part of the problem and the biggest concern,” the source said.
The source noted the circular that the Ministry of Education sent to the head of educational institutions on Thursday.
iWitness News has obtained a copy of the communiqué in which Permanent Secretary Myccle Burke said that the March 17 to 19 session for teachers will focus on assessment of students’ online engagement and academic recovery programme where schools are expected to devise plans that focus on recovering students’ learning loss, particularly the students who were not engaged online.
The sessions will allow review of the achievements of the online learning and its sustainability; review of the skills and competence critical to delivering online learning; revisit of the health and safety protocols; and make recommendations for promotion at the end of the academic year.
But the source told iWitness News that at Sunday’s meeting, teachers concluded that all of these objectives could be achieved in virtual and face-to-face sessions were not necessary.