The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers is highly concerned about the rising numbers in COVID-19 cases, and deaths, seen in the past week and feels that this would not be a propitious moment in time to reopen schools safely. The union feels that this is especially so in view of the fact that schools are not ready to confront such a serious, and potentially life-threatening, situation as the one being presented by this pandemic
Never before has the union felt the need to urge that schools remain closed more than at this moment in time. The amount of stress our educators are being subjected to, due to the uncertainty behind the reopening of schools, is way too high for any of them to be able perform adequately. The simple fact that the union felt the need to issue the four procedural requests issued yesterday only confirms how unprepared to safeguard our educators and students, the educational system currently is.
Reactions from both members and parents further corroborated these concerns expressed by the UPE. It is evident that much more still needs to be done to safeguard not only the educators and the students, but anyone else who may be affected, as a result, outside the school system. As things stand, the numbers are way too high, and incomplete measures would only pose a threat on society at large: a threat which has made the possible irremediable consequences of infection stand out as our most vulnerable members of society are passing away daily, in utter solitude.
The union thus asks, how can the ministry accept to burden the consciences of people with the thought of possibly passing on this virus to the vulnerable members of society, knowing full well that more still needs to be done to reasonably mitigate the spread of the virus? How can the ministry allow schools to open when, with the current measures in place, a safe reopening is a far cry from the health and safety measures required to at least minimise infection?
One does not build a plane while flying it, and our educators should not be put in a position where due, to the procrastination of the ministry, they are expected to start off a school year knowing that they are not as adequately protected as they should be in their place of work.
The UPE is thus formally requesting the Ministry to reconsider reopening schools for the time being, and to delay the reopening until the measures taken are more in line with the requirements of the time, in terms of preventative measures.