By LEANDRA ROLLE
A TEACHER at C H Reeves Junior High School criticised Education Minister Jeff Lloyd's response to the industrial action taken by teachers last Wednesday for protesting against conditions at the school.
"The charge was given for us, the teachers at C H Reeves, to 'explain the legitimate, credible and justifiable reason' for the recent industrial actions taken…. firstly, I submit that there is no singular 'reason' for our action, as there are a host of concerns," said one teacher, who did not want to be named.
Topping the list of concerns, the teacher said, is the delay in the completion of the main block at the C H Reeves.
"Let me help sensitise to you why this is such a major issue. It is the largest of our four teaching spaces and houses the largest percentage of classrooms, offices, and the main assembly meeting space. Because it is out of use, there are cases where teachers have been asked to combine classes in a singular space," she said.
She noted that teachers were initially told that the block would be open by mid-September, but it didn't happen.
"Additional challenges faced because of it include, multiple teachers floating and clashing in rooms that are already occupied, a more confined and chaotic assembly space and chaos during break and lunch time as there is only one tuck shop open for usage by nearly 1,000 students," she said.
Up to press time, Mr Lloyd could not be contacted for comment. However, responding to the concerns highlighted, Education Director Marcellus Taylor acknowledged that contractors were "behind" in completing work at the block, but he explained that due to Hurricane Dorian, everything got delayed.
"The hurricane stopped work," Mr Taylor said. "It also stopped our focus and things like that. But the idea is for the contractors to work either after hours, on the weekends or depending on the type of work, for them to complete the work in the main block until it is all sorted out."
He continued: "Some teachers at C H Reeves feel that unless everything is exactly the way they want it, then they don't think they should work. I just think that it's not responsible. We have students who have to be prepared for exams and students who have a right to the education, and they should be able to access education."
Other concerns raised by teachers included issues with running water and increasing tensions between some school leaders and teachers.
To this, Mr Taylor responded that the problems with water at the school have already been resolved.
Speaking on tensions among staff, he noted that the Ministry of Education has procedures put in place for staff to resolve complaints.
"At the end of the day, the students are the ones being punished and being denied their basic human right. That's the children of Montel Heights, the children of Podoleo Street, the children in all that area around there that go to C H Reeves….yet, some people just see it as trivial," he said.