Clarendon teachers ready to rumble
The Clarendon chapter of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) has said that educators in the mid-island parish are enthusiastic about the reopening of schools for face-to-face learning this term despite being on tenterhooks in light of the increasing COVID-19 cases.
Speaking with The Gleaner following a JTA church service at the Church of God of Prophecy in Wood Hall, Clarendon, on Sunday, Shaunette Baugh-Wilson, president of the chapter, said that the teachers remain committed to their mandate of educating the nation’s children.
“We’re also of the view that we should capitalise on every minute of giving our students the best learning opportunity before we’re forced to shut down again - if it comes to that,” she said, noting the still-present COVID-19 threat.
The education ministry has given the green light to 129 schools to reopen this term for face-to-face teaching. This is up from the 17 schools that were previously approved last October.
Education Minister Fayval Williams has said that students and teachers are expected to use one or a combination of virtual and physical learning for classes. Baugh-Wilson hinted that some teachers were still struggling with access to devices and Internet connectivity to deliver virtual lessons.
“The teachers are asking ... [the ministry to] expedite the process of ensuring that all teachers are provided with a laptop and data to add to our ability to give quality learning opportunities to our students, especially if we have to go back to the virtual modality,” she said.
She also placed the Government on notice that her teachers and their colleagues across the island would be expecting a “decent” salary increase at the conclusion of the next period of negotiation.
Baugh-Wilson expressed hope for a safe and productive 2022 for schools, noting that safety was a personal responsibility.
“We know that no public school will have everything needed to be adequately prepared, so we rely on the resilience and ingenuity of our colleagues to exercise their duties in a safe manner at all times to protect self, students, colleagues, as well as parents and other members of the support staff,” she said.
Elisa Craig, principal of Wood Hall Primary School and pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy, offered a special prayer for teachers and anointed them with olive oil during the service.
On Sunday, the JTA held simultaneous services at one location in each parish across the island to mark the start of the new school term.