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Minister Shrugs Off Union Strike Threat

Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd yesterday.

Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff

Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd yesterday. Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

EDUCATION Minister Jeff Lloyd said he is not concerned “whatsoever” by recent comments made by Bahamas Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson, who warned that the union could take industrial action if schools are not ready before the new school year or if increments are not paid.

Mr Lloyd spoke after the BUT president sent a voice note to teachers on Monday night, raising concerns about the readiness of institutions due to COVID-19, among other things.

According to Mrs Wilson, the union has yet to receive a plan from the Ministry of Education on the reopening of schools.

“Schools are scheduled to reopen for teachers, guidance counsellors, librarians, teachers’ aides on Monday, August 23, which is seven days away. To date, after writing to the Ministry of Education about a plan for the re-opening, I have not had anything in writing,” the BUT president said.

 “I have been informed of a meeting that is supposed to be held. I await the details.”

 She said the lack of communication between education officials and the union concerning health and safety protocols have left many teachers fearful of returning to the classrooms.

 Advising members on how to react if the proper measures are not in place, Mrs Wilson said: “All teachers when you report to school and the schools are not prepared, do not enter the classrooms and remain outside socially distanced.

 “The shop stewards will have the union’s COVID-19 health and safety checklist that they will meet with the principal. They will go through the checklist and then they will meet with you as teachers to make sure that you are satisfied that the safety protocols are implemented before school begins.”

 Mrs Wilson also addressed concerns related to promised increments for educators, noting that she had been informed that the payments will be made this month.

 However, if health and monetary concerns are not addressed, the BUT president gave this message:

 “Just be ready for industrial action,” she said.

 Responding yesterday, Mr Lloyd said he was not fazed by the remarks. He said schools will be ready to re-open safely come the end of this month.

 He reiterated that schools on certain islands will resume face-to-face instruction, while others will start with a blended learning environment due to the high COVID infection rates in those communities.

 Pointing to the Ministry of Education’s Strategic Plan for the Safe Reopening of Schools, Mr Lloyd said the same guidelines applied for the 2020/21 school semester will also apply for this upcoming school year.

 “In our conversations with the Ministry of Health. . .they determine what can happen in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and that those places in The Bahamas that do not have issues of COVID, we’re talking primarily of the southern islands, they can go face-to-face,” Mr Lloyd said yesterday.

 “Those (islands) where there is an issue with COVID, they will be allowed to go blended. I’ve stated that and so I don’t understand who would not understand that but I understand because again, we’ve been in constant communication with the health authorities.”

“And as I’ve said yesterday, we have had a summer programme for those students who would’ve had some learning loss in the previous year and the very same prescriptions that have been given to us by the health (officials) that you have to maintain social distancing, wear masks, have the seven to 12 square feet spacing between students – those were obtained in the upcoming school year so there’s really nothing new about how we’re going to conduct the school year 2021/22.”

 “Now, in terms of repairs, those repairs are ongoing, and we fully expect that all schools will be ready and repairs will be completed in time for the August 30 presentation,” the minister added.

 Asked if he were concerned about the threats of industrial action, Mr Lloyd said he had none “whatsoever” and added that the ministry is currently focused on getting students and teachers ready for the school year.

 “None whatsoever. No concern whatsoever because we are doing everything we can and ought to do to get our students and teachers and our administrators ready for school,” the Education Minister told reporters.

 “This week, the administrators are in conclave. They are preparing themselves. Next week, the teachers are in conclave, they are preparing themselves.”

Comments

licks2 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Officers at the department of education are rejoicing. . .MR. LLOYD IS GONE!!! Now they can bring their misfit director to accounting without a minister who remains "blinded" to what needed to be done to better the educational system in the bahamas!!

MR LLOYD IS GONE. . .GOOD RIDDENCE!! It seem there is no love lost for Mr. LLOYD in that department!!!

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