President of the Saint Lucia Teachers Union, Don Howell, confirmed that the current void of teachers in classrooms has much to do with the current spike in COVID-19 cases in the island as opposed to the notion of industrial action.
Mr. Howell confirmed schools are now stretched thin and some are operating on a skeleton staff. “I am shocked and surprised that people are saying it’s a strike”, he said to reporters on Wednesday morning as he reminded the island that the health and safety of teachers, students and parents were at risk as face-to-face teaching continues.
The Ministry of Education, he said needs to revisit the face-to-face option of learning as the impact on many students and staff members was grave. “The SLTU was very disappointed with the decisions made by the Ministry of Education because we continued to lament the impact it is having on students and teachers.”
The President confessed that with the rampant and continued rise of COVID-19 cases on the island, many institutions have had to abort their teaching plans to keep students at school in specific areas as COVID-19 has not spared the schooling population.
Mr. Howell confirmed the SLTU recommended to the ministry to close schools for a two-week period in order to negate the current wave affecting normal instructions, as well as allow for the expiration of medical leave for affected students and teachers. He reiterated the Union is for quality education but not under the current circumstances, “we are for teachers and students being in school, however, the circumstances that we have to deal with doesn’t permit us to effectively manage school at this time.”
During the day, students from secondary schools were making their way out of the school compound earlier than the normal dismissal time.