The following statement was released today by the Commissioner of Education…
The Commissioner of Education, Mrs Kalmar Richards, has today provided clarity regarding a letter from BUT that has appeared in the media.
Commissioner Richards said: “Children must be placed at the centre of all decisions related to Education. All school staff are expected to place children first in their decisions and to ensure any actions taken do not result in depriving them of teaching, learning and services. During the week of February 17th, 2020 teachers in four of our schools engaged in irregular industrial action which saw teaching-learning and services stop for a total of 720 students. The parents of our students were impacted as one school closed without notice.
“It should be noted that these teachers decided to stop working during the workday and hold meetings to discuss matters of concerns. In one instance this occurred for the majority of the school day and as a result, one school had to be closed. Teachers were reminded of the Government’s policy of no work, no pay. They were in breach of the union agreement, and the advised of avenues in their Collective Bargaining Agreement whereby they can have their concerns addressed. Despite this, they still chose to continue with their meetings and not carry out their responsibilities.
“Last week’s letter was written to inform those affected that rather than deduct salaries during this stressful time, the deductions will take effect later, and spread over a few months. It is important to note that similar deductions were made last year following irregular action by teachers which impacted student learning and services.
“The Department of Education followed the Government’s policy; however, we have exercised flexibility and sensitivity with our decision to delay the deductions and implement them over a few months.
“Additionally, we have extended further accommodations to all of our teachers during these extraordinary times, and over the next two weeks we have revised schedules for school staff and suspended the remote learning program during the week of April 13th as we “shelter in place.” Our students are on an extended Spring break the week of April 6th; however, the school will send a schedule of activities to parents for students to complete during the week of April 13th, 2020.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of our school staff as we adapt to the unprecedented challenges. During the week of March 23rd, when we launched a remote learning strategy, our school staff demonstrated a commitment to students by engaging them in a variety of remote learning activities.”