Schools are expected to open on September 6 and the Ministry of Education says that teachers who do not wish to take any of the COVID-19 vaccines will be required to submit the results of a PCR COVID-19 test, showing that they have not been infected with the novel coronavirus.
Those tests, the Ministry of Education said in a press release issued on Monday night, must be done at an approved private facility. And, teachers who do not report for duty will be marked absent.
That release also encouraged all teachers, who have not yet been vaccinated, to take their COVID-19 vaccines. Importantly, it reminded teachers that these vaccines help to reduce hospitalisations, deaths, and even the likelihood of becoming infected.
Importantly, these measures also apply for those ancillary staff in schools including cleaners, administrative staff and other support staff.
And, the ministry said that it will provide to all teachers face masks, face shields, sanitizing agents (environ) and spray bottles to assist in ensuring they are safe upon their return to the classroom.
These newly communicated requirements were announced as efforts are being made to assess the readiness of schools ahead of its reopening on September 6. These efforts have been assisted by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU).
But, the GTU has now withdrawn from participating in the present assessment of schools and other planned engagements with the education ministry, until the education ministry’s release is retracted.
The union did not explicitly disagree with any of the newly announced requirements but it stated: “Our members have called on us to act in their best interest.
“We are not opposed to vaccination but it MUST be voluntary.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday afternoon, Guyana will receive its first shipment of these Pfizer vaccines as a donation from the US. These vaccines, as communicated before, will be administered to children between the ages of 12 to 18 and are a crucial component in the reopening of schools.