Gadsby-Dolly: No walkout at Arima Girls’ RC

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Education Nyan Gadsby-Dolly – Jeff Mayers

EDUCATION Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly has denied any teacher walkout took place at Arima Girls’ RC School on Monday, in a text to Newsday, in response to various allegations made online.

She said, “There is no walk-out at Arima Girls’ RC. This is fake news.”

Earlier, TTUTA first vice president Marlon Seales had told Newsday teachers had not walked off the job, but some had taken their pupils outdoors for class, amid concerns that several members of the school community had recently tested positive for covid19 and that too few cleaners had been on duty on Monday.

Newsday asked the minister if a shortage of cleaners had prompted concerns about covid safety and if this would be rectified.

Gadsby-Dolly replied, “There was a water shortage last week, which threw off the cleaning schedule. The cleaners are addressing it.”

She said this was a question of “routine matters” typical of schools and which principals could manage.

Newsday asked about reports of some teachers reportedly taking pupils outdoors to teach at the Arima school, as a covid precaution.

Gadsby-Dolly said, “Outdoor classes are not new. I loved outdoor classes as a child. I am sure the children do too.

“Once this can be safely accommodated based on the school layout, it should be used as much as is practicable.”

Seales expressed a concern about possible inadequate social distancing in schools with a full pupil turnout, but reiterated that at the Arima school teachers had remained present on Monday.

“Our members did not actually do a refusal-to-work.

“What they did was to remove themselves from the dangerous situation of being inside the classroom. They took their students to be ventilated outside of the classroom, while trying to continue the education process in as safe a manner as possible.”

Saying an unnamed media house had said teachers had left school, he said, “I am giving you the inside scoop now that this did not happen.”

Otherwise, he said TTUTA was concerned that many pupils had dropped out of the school system in the period that school learning was online, noting a five-ten per cent drop in pupil entrants for the SEA and CSEC exams.

“The classroom teacher proved to be an integral and significant part of the education system, so we would want to go on record as congratulating our classroom teachers, but notwithstanding that, they should not be put in harm’s way (regarding covid19),” Seales said.