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Teachers with hands raised, representing "represent peace and strength standing as one".
Teachers with hands raised, representing “represent peace and strength standing as one”.
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Teachers at West St. George Secondary School (WSGSS), today (Wednesday), responded to the call of the Teachers’ Union, and, for the second day in less than a week, sat in their staff room in protest against the government’s vaccine mandate.

The teachers’ action came on a day that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on radio that his government will hire teachers, including retired educators, on short term contracts, to teach where current teachers refuse to go to their classes.

The WSGSS teachers are standing in solitary with their colleagues who have opted to not get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the government has mandated, if they are to continue in their post.

Unvaccinated teachers and other public sector workers for whom the jab is required but who have not obtained a medical or religious exemption, have until Friday to take the jab or be deemed to have abandoned their posts.

The 10-day leeway for police officers expires today

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Last Friday, the teachers at WSGSS, where about 11 of the 31 educators are unvaccinated, wore black and sat in their classroom in protest against the mandate. 

“The sit-in the staff room, as called for by the SVGTU (St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union), is in full effect at the school,” one source at the school told iWitness News. 

“There are a few teachers who went to classes this morning. But most are in black and sitting out of the classroom — sitting in the staff room.”

The source said that as had been the case on Friday —  most of the teachers went to the classrooms only to mark the attendance register and continued their sit-in until 3 p.m.

The teachers plan to continue the sit-in on Thursday.

“This is part of the continued actions among vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, who are standing in solidarity with unvaccinated teachers in accordance with SR&O 28 of 2021,” one source told iWitness News, referring to the law passed by Cabinet that brought the mandate into effect.

“The hand signs represent peace and strength standing as one,” the source said, referring to a photograph of teachers with their hands held high, one with their index and middle fingers forming a “V” and the other of a clenched fist.

In his weekly appearance on the state-owned NBC Radio, on Wednesday, Gonsalves said that he had heard about the teachers’ stance at WSGSS and the Ministry of Education was keeping him informed.  

“I am asking my brothers and sisters who are teaching in West  St. George, please, don’t punish the students. Don’t punish the students by going to school and not teaching the students,” the prime minister said.

“You are hurting people who don’t deserve to be hurt and you are doing so on a basis which is not rational. Please.”

He said that his government has an obligation for the safety of the students and that that obligation “is high on the totem pole”. 

“I’m talking about the safety of the children,” the prime minister said, adding that another obligation on the totem pole is the education of the children. 

“So if you want to go to school and stay in your staffroom, I will instruct the Ministry of Education to hire other teachers to go and teach. Indeed, I have given them instructions, if need be, not only there but anywhere else, to hire retired teachers, take them on short-term contracts.”

Gonsalves said that he would make a Cabinet decision to ensure that the retired teachers’ pensions continue even as they are awarded teaching contracts by the government.

“Everybody must understand how I think and how I am leading and how the government thinks,” the prime minister said.

“You want to go to school and stay in your staff room? I ain’t sending police to move you. I just get somebody else to teach people’s children, including, if necessary, retired teachers. 

“And I will pass a Cabinet decision to have them paid whatever their numeration under the new contract — short term, whilst they still continue to get their pension for what they have served already. That is how high on the totem pole I put the children. And I do this with an open heart and with love,” the prime minister said.  

“I have nothing personal against anybody who is choosing to not take the vaccine. I am talking about within the framework of the regulations. But I am urging you to take what I consider to be the rational and correct choice, take the vaccine, unless you have one of the exemptions. But if you decide that you are not taking it, well, choices have consequences,” Gonsalves said. 

6 replies on “WSGSS continues ‘sit-in’ against vaccine mandate; PM says he will hire more teachers”

  1. Grateful students says:

    Lol..He hiring a lot of A- level ‘ kids’ who can’t even manage the classes much less teach…By the way just because she know content does not mean you can deliver it in a manner that students can understand!
    Good luck to this generation of students. Thank the Lord I don’t have children.

  2. Nathan 'Jolly' Green says:

    Looks like he has dug himself a big hole and to get out he is trying to reach Australia, but will probably pop up eventually in Cuba or Venezuela.

  3. The governances related to what can be considered an endemic, is bigger than SVG. It is within the framework of an international regularity system. It amazes me of the oversight of the teachers and their insensitivities to going to the classrooms in the faces of the innocence, ‘only to mark the attendance register and continued their sit-in until 3 p.m.’ who are they really hurting? Please PONDER People!
    It is each individual’s freedom and right to do as we please, and opportunity to do what he/she thinks is right. However; the consequences are also for each to PONDER and thus; the ultimate.

  4. Comrade should fire these teachers who put their selfish feelings above the safety of their students.
    Covid does not respect beliefs!

  5. i love the ingenious comment from Jolly Green, LOL! The truth is that many leaders in the world today are showing not just how arrogant they are but in truth, just much they hate their people; to the point that they despise all they stand for. They strive for the recognition of the real world bosses, such as the likes of the author of the “Great Reset” Klaus Schwab. By nature politicians are weak people and it shows in this case.

  6. Anthony Williams says:

    I consider myself to be Apolitical, and I have had cause to view the ULP government with a great deal of suspicion because of their handling of recent events, BUT the PM has to lead and look after the nation as a whole, so I am fully supportive of his stance in this matter.

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