Over 50 per cent of teachers vaccinated
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A nurse at the National Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, preparing to administer a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to a local healthcare worker (Vishani Ragobeer photo)
A nurse at the National Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, preparing to administer a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to a local healthcare worker (Vishani Ragobeer photo)

–Education Minister says, calls for good sense to prevail ahead of physical reopening of schools

MINISTER of Education, Priya Manickchand, has said that over 50 per cent of the teachers in the public school system have been vaccinated.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Ministry of Education’s Education Sector Plan (ESP) and Education Month 2021, on Wednesday, Minister Manickchand said that aside from the advice of the Ministry of Health, the decision to reopen schools on September 6 was taken based on appeals from teachers and parents across the country, who lamented the impact of physical school closure.

“I want it to be known that it was the teachers of this country and parents of this country who told us they cannot deliver education effectively with schools doors closed. [It was] a call by teachers,” Manickchand related.

The minister was responding directly to questions from the press on reports that the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) has called on teachers to stay away from schools on Monday.
Manickchand said the union’s position is not reflective of what majority of teachers have communicated to the ministry.

“Based on the representation we have gotten from teachers, and the robust calls for us to reopen school doors, I would have to say that this call that Mr. [Mark] Lyte [President of the GTU] made does not seem to be reflective of what majority of his teachers want,” Minister Manickchand related.

She added: “I’m not certain what informs collective decisions but it should be the views of the majority of teachers. I would hope the union is acting based on information from majority and not inspired and motivated by anything else but that.”

The GTU led by Lyte, on Wednesday, held a protest, calling on teachers to strike if the ministry follows through with a requirement that teachers and other staff at public schools will not be allowed into the school compounds on Monday if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

GTU is also party to a joint court order filed alongside the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) challenging a requirement for public service employees, including teachers, to be vaccinated or be marked absent from work.

Minister Manickchand acknowledged that while industrial action by the teachers would affect the operations at schools, she is hopeful that they will see reason.

“Teachers teach our children and we are reopening so that children can be taught. It would be foolish of me to say teachers staying away wouldn’t have an impact because it will. At this point, I’m asking each teacher to look into their hearts and determine what is their professional duty to this country, themselves and the children they swore to serve. Each teacher must decide that and I hope that is what will guide people,” the minister said.

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