Commissioner of Education, Kalmar Richards confirmed the report first published by TNN on the sick out staged earlier today at Dalton E Tucker Primary School.

TNN reported this morning that “yet another school” was hit by “industrial action within the last two weeks”.

“Today teachers at Dalton E Tucker Primary School, staged what is believed to be a sick out leaving the school Principal to close the facility as there were not enough teachers to teach classes,” the report said.

“The Principal has called parents to collect their children.”

In a statement released this afternoon, Ms Richards said: “The Department of Education regrets to inform the community that Dalton E Tucker Primary School was unable to open today due to an unexpected high number of staff absences.

“We recognize the inconvenience and concern this causes for our students, parents, and the wider community, and we are deeply sorry for the disruption.

“We are unaware of any specific concerns of Dalton E Tucker staff that would lead to any form of industrial action,” she added.

“And we thank parents and guardians for their patience and understanding. 

“The community will be updated as we work through these challenges and will provide information about the reopening of Dalton E Tucker as soon as it becomes available.”

The Ministry also released the following on Context and Some Background:

Schools have an allocated substitute or support teacher on site on a daily basis. Schools also have access to a pool of substitutes for planned absences and those substitutes are typically confirmed prior to the dates of the absences. Should a school require additional coverage, contingency plans go into effect. This involves having teachers who have additional planning time to cover classes.

On a related matter, the Government of Bermuda recently signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Bermuda Union of Teachers that includes an increase in personal days off.  Typically, during the summer months there is a peak in the number of staff across the Bermuda Public School System taking their personal days off. This exacerbates challenges of securing substitutes when staff call in sick in the morning. All schools have been asked to have emergency plans to help mitigate this. 

We are actively addressing these challenges and are committed to finding solutions that will prevent similar disruptions in the future. The Department will engage in discussions with the BUT to address concerns around coverage for absences and the utilization of substitute teachers in general. 

Our priority remains the education and safety of our students, and we are striving to minimize any impact on their learning experience.

We thank our parents and guardians for their understanding and patience as we navigate these complex issues together.

Top Feature Photo Courtesy Of TNN