Some 50 % of teachers vaccinated; Manickchand hopeful teachers will turn out Monday
Based on surveys done by the Ministry of Education, some 50 per cent of teachers are vaccinated and Minister of Education Priya Manickchand is optimistic that teachers will turn out to schools on Monday.
The new academic year begins on Monday, September 6 and each school will be reopening for face-to-face learning based on individualised plans crafted. This means that some schools will be reopening fully while others will have a shift system.
Ahead of schools’ reopening, however, the Education Ministry has mandated that teachers be vaccinated or produce a negative PCR COVID-19 test that was issued within the past seven days. This is in keeping with vaccination requirements instituted by the Government of Guyana and published in the Official Gazette.
The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) during a recent virtual meeting warned of strike action and subsequently joined with the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GPSU) asking the High Court to revoke these measures.
The unions contend that such actions are forcing people to take the life-saving COVID-19 vaccines but Former Speaker of the National Assembly and attorney-at- Law Ralph Ramkarran says that these measures are lawful.
At the sidelines of an event on Wednesday, Minister Manickchand told reporters that the ministry will be gathering information on whether teachers will indeed engage in strike action and potentially stay away from schools on Monday.
She stated, “It would be foolish of me to say that teachers staying away wouldn’t have an impact (on the reopening of schools) because it will.”
The minister, however, noted, “Each teacher must decide that as each human being in this country must decide what they will do at this point.”
Manickchand also highlighted that the ministry’s individualised plans for the physical reopening of schools were drawn from teachers themselves. And as such, she was optimistic that teachers would turn out.
When asked if the ministry has put contingency plans in place should teachers strike, she answered: “I have not made those kinds of arrangements.
“I believe the teachers of this country will be responsible and I believe that they are aware that the education of the nation’s children rests on their shoulders.”
Still, she noted that based on surveys done and answered honestly by teachers, more than 50 per cent of teachers have been vaccinated. And, she said that additional teachers were coming forward to get their vaccines.
Earlier on Wednesday, some teachers were able to get their Sputnik V second dose at the children’s vaccination drive at Queen’s College in Georgetown.