The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers had a meeting, this morning, with the Ministry of Education to discuss the closure of schools and the proposal for an immediate move for lessons to be held online. This meeting followed an ultimatum given by the UPE to discuss the proposal.
The current situation, where COVID-19 is concerned, is dire: the numbers speak for themselves and are, to say the least, alarming. On a daily basis, we hear of new positive infections within our schools among educators and also among our student populations.
The Health system is being put under way too much pressure with contact tracing being heavily delayed, swabs being done several days after being requested, and results coming out much later.
For all of these reasons, the UPE reiterated the importance of implementing plan B and moving back to an online method of teaching with immediate effect.
From the end of the Ministry, all that was offered to the UPE was more vague responses rather than a show of true concern for the educational sector. The ministry blamed the Health Authorities, saying that it is ultimately their remit to take the decision, and likewise from their end, the Health Authorities brushed off all form of responsibility on the matter onto the Ministry of Education. This endless game of ping pong should not be happening, especially when it is the health and safety of thousands of people that is at stake.
The UPE has not stopped following the COVID situation internationally, and has noticed that in countries with a lower infection rate than the one we currently have, a state of emergency was called, schools were closed physically, and lessons were moved online. Why then is it that our educational system does not seem to have a plan B in place ready to be implemented to help resolve, at least in part, the national crisis we have at hand? Why wait longer when the current system has already failed so many?
The UPE regretfully has to say that, until now, the discussions held have not been fruitful. The union will wait until midnight today for the ultimatum to come to a close and then take action. We, at the UPE, have demonstrated our willingness to discuss further, and to find a way forward at this point in time.
We need businesses to remain open and we need them to thrive and flourish, but this can only be done by reducing numbers significantly, and this will not happen unless we stop having thousands of people crammed together in enclosed spaces in educational institutions for hours on end.
If the union does not get a clear response from the government, it will be given no choice other than to take the situation in hand and take all the possible measures it has legally available to safeguard our members and our students in the best way possible.
The union hopes that finally common sense will prevail and that the ministry will give the union a clear response with regards to online learning by today at midnight at the latest.
Should any of our members, or any other educator, have any further queries or want to raise any concerns in these exceptional times, they are not to hesitate to contact the union at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our offices on 2590 5400