Speid slams principals who have returned to school

Covid-19

Speid slams principals who have returned to school

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 27, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Owen Speid has slammed some principals who he has accused of trying to look better than their peers by going out to school despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, thus putting the lives of others at risk.

“The challenge is that some of our principals have been wanting to look better than others and they have been out there pushing as if they are super humans to go out there and face this disease head-on and they are carrying other people with them,” asserted Speid, the immediate past president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association.

“What I want to say to people is that you don't have to go with them, because we prefer to have you alive than dead. You can't even get condolences nowadays much more to have a funeral,” he added.

Speid was responding to a teacher who wanted to know how to treat principals who have comorbidities and are going out while teachers are being asked to stay home.

The occasion was a half-yearly JTA meeting in St James. The meeting, held via Zoom, was one of two held on Wednesday. The other took place in Westmoreland.

On November 10, the Government started face-to-face classes under a two-week pilot programme in 17 schools across the country. Since then, Education Minister Fayval Williams has disclosed that more schools are being assessed to facilitate face-to-face learning at the end of the project.

Saying that it has been brought to his attention that there are plans in place to reopen other schools before the Christmas break, Speid told the St James meeting: “When you're in the discussions and people are pushing you to the limit, please understand that there are some things I have to put in the mix, and I'm not telling you that you might not be better off to go. What we are against is that people are forcing you out there to get out there physically, when the truth is that many of you may be able to operate from home and carry out your functions.”

He accused the Government of failing to provide tablets and reliable Internet service to students on a timely basis, saying that has led to the resumption of face-to-face classes. However, he cautioned that the decision for a broader reopening of schools should be informed by directives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

According to Speid, a number of students, teachers, and parents have underlying condition and some are not aware of this.

He also said that some teachers and students had been exposed to risk during the first phase of the programme in St James as they had to take public transportation to school.

“I'm saying it only takes one person, one teacher, [or] one child to take that virus into a small community school like that and you could have a monumental spread in quick time. And so, these are some things that we need to take into consideration. We don't have adequate transportation systems across the city of Kingston and St Andrew and the St James area to take on close to 500 more students across Jamaica,” stated Speid.


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