Gonzales defends govt’s process on school closures during bad weather

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales responds to questions at a news conference at his ministry in Port of Spain on Wednesday. – Angelo Marcelle

PUBLIC Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales believes yellow-level adverse-weather alerts are “normal” in this country during the rainy season, so there is no need to close schools each time one is issued.

He said if that were to happen, people may also ask for the public service to be shut down during those incidents.

Gonzales was responding to a question by Newsday at the ministry in Port of Spain on Wednesday morning.

In October, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly told Newsday yellow-level adverse weather alerts were “not enough” to close schools.

This was in response to the backlash her ministry was facing for announcing the closure of schools around 7 am on a school day.

At the news conference on Wednesday, meteorologist Gary Benjamin said people in this country do not take yellow-level weather alerts as seriously as they need to.

Told of Gadsby-Dolly’s comments and asked for a response, Gonzales said he did not feel it was appropriate for Benjamin to respond and opted to do it himself.

He said the government does “not take lightly the issue of closing schools because of yellow-level alerts.”

But he added, in direct contrast to Benjamin, “The yellow-level alert, in our view, is something we experience as normal in rainy-season conditions.

“So we need a little bit more to make a decision.”

He said everything is looked at on a “case-by-case perspective” and that there is “a lot to consider” when making such decisions.

“It is an executive decision and it is not one that should be dealt with flippantly.

“The minute you start this practice of having to close schools because of a yellow-level alert, then (people) will start asking, ‘So why don’t you close the public service?’ ‘Why don’t you close this, why don’t you close that?’”

He said the government needs to be very careful in its decision making and that this particular topic is “not one for the Met Service to agree or disagree (on).