The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers, commends the practice of church schools nationwide in their endeavour to ensure that our students’ progress is not stunted in these unprecedented times.
As part of its investigation on these practices, the UPE has interviewed a parent, whose child attends a local church school at primary level, to verify how the collection of his child’s resources from school was effected, and if all was done in full conformity of the current protocol dictated by our health authorities. The union was pleasantly surprised at the lengths at which this school went to ensure that these practices were implemented, in the best way possible, ensuring the safety of both the members of staff and the students in their care. So as to guarantee the anonymity of the parent and the school, no names will be quoted in this article. After this interview however, the union believes that these practices should be in place across the board, in all educational institutions.
In the interview, the parent explained how all material belonging to the children had been previously separated, labelled and placed alphabetically according to the child’s year, in one easily identifiable location on a long table in a hall, to ensure that there would be no roaming around classrooms or corridors. Access to the institution was granted by appointment, through separate entrances and exits, with a maximum of 3 people being granted access at any one time. Some parents agreed to have their children’s belongings collected by one person, who would then take the responsibility of distributing the material accordingly, thus ensuring that there would be no unnecessary queuing outside the school building. The smooth flow of entrance, collection and exit, was regulated by the school administration to ensure that social distancing procedures, which are currently being highly recommended, were being respected. The school advised that should there be a number of people outside the school building, parents were to maintain social distance or remain in their vehicle until it was their turn to access the school. It also recommended bringing a box, or a bag, in which to place the resources. Parents were reassured that collection was recommended but not mandatory, and that any uncollected material would remain on school premises and could be collected at the beginning of the next scholastic year.
The parent explained how this whole process turned out to be a “swift and clean procedure posing no risk to any of the people on the premises, and in full respect of the social distancing directives issued by the health authorities”. He also said, “As a parent, I appreciate the effort made by the school to facilitate the education of my child. This starkly contrasts with the situation in which other parents are being held back from such practice due to the inhibition of such procedures”. This protocol has proven to be so efficient that, the union feels that, should the ministry want to adopt such a protocol, consultation with the church authorities can only be recommended.
As a union, the UPE is pleased to see that the Church Secretariat is acting in full accordance with the instructions issued by the health authorities and has provided an efficient mechanism which has allowed teachers and students to continue working, despite the difficult times we are currently living through.