Bahamas: Teachers are fearful amid COVID cases, says BUT president

Teachers are fearful amid COVID cases, says BUT president

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson yesterday urged education officials to shore up health and safety protocols in public schools as positive cases of COVID-19 continue to pop up among the student and staff population.

According to the union, cases have been confirmed at Thelma Gibson Primary, Sadie Curtis Primary, Uriah McPhee Primary, Gambier Primary and Government High School

“As the COVID-19 positive cases rise again, New Providence schools have students and teachers that are testing positive,” Wilson told Eyewitness News.

She continued: “Again, the Bahamas Union of Teachers is urging the Ministry of Education to ensure that safety protocols are being followed.

Wilson expressed concern about protocols within schools surrounding suspected cases.

“Once there is a suspected case(s) the time period is too long before teachers are informed,” she said.

“Teachers are still not being informed in a timely manner about confirmed cases.

The BUT president also expressed concern that teachers, who are frequently tested, must do so at their own expense.

Wilson also said time spent in quarantine has been deducted from normal sick leave, a practice she called unfair.

“Teachers are fearful for their health,” she continued

“A concern now that many students, even some entire grade levels, are in quarantine and teachers are also in quarantine.

“The concern of teacher shortage was expressed in at least one school.

“The Bahamas Union of Teachers will continue to monitor this situation and we are in frequent communication with the shop stewards and union representatives at the various schools.”

As of April 20, Director of Education Marcellus Taylor advised that there had been 15 to 20 suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in public schools across New Providence.

He assured that there was a stringent protocol to follow with suspected and confirmed cases.

Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd has also said he had “no concern at all” that an outbreak could occur at schools open for face-to-face learning.

The majority of schools offer face-to-face and virtual learning on a rotational basis.

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