The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers has been receiving various calls, messages and emails from parents and educators alike, members and non-members of the union, expressing their utmost concern over the re-opening of schools.
From what has been reported, some schools have already handed in schedules indicating that school attendance will be determined on the base of shifts, whereby children will not be required to attend school every day once schools re-open their doors in the upcoming academic year.
Many of our members, as well as other non-members, and parents external to the educational system, contacted our offices stating that should this be the scenario, they feel that they will have no alternative but to leave their day jobs so as to take care of their children when they are home. Given the rising numbers, many claimed that they felt uncomfortable leaving their children with older members of the family when the children will have potentially been exposed to the virus. Others claimed that they had nowhere to leave the children, and had no intention of leaving minors unattended for such lengths of time.
It was thus that within their family circles they discussed the way forward, and giving up teaching seemed to them the most viable option should this scenario be adopted. This will yield a fatal blow to our educational system, where educators have already been hard to come by: a further haemorrhage of educators will surely impact the system negatively enough to bring it down to its knees.
The union understands how worried these people might all feel given the situation, however, the UPE would like to reassure all parties concerned that on its part, it is doing its utmost to find a solution to this dilemma. Back in March, the Prime Minister and the Superintendent of Public Health set a benchmark in terms of numbers for school closure, a benchmark which the union will push to have repristinated if it is deemed that any other alternative offered by the Ministry of Education is not viable.
The UPE will not allow for our educators to be put in a catch-22 situation, where the valuable work of our educators, and the future of our children’s education, are jeopardised by a choice they are unwillingly taking into consideration.