The Guyana Teachers Union has called for the immediate closure of schools across the country, two days after schools reopened their doors for face-to-face learning.
The call comes as the country has found itself in the middle of a spike in new COVID-19 cases.
In a statement, the Guyana Teachers Union said based on its own assessment since the reopening of schools on Monday, 65 teachers and more than 40 students have tested positive for the virus.
The union said while at least 15 schools have been forced to close their doors because of COVID-19 cases, many other schools have remained open although cases have been confirmed among staff and students.
The union said based on visits to schools, there are no social distancing guidelines being followed in many classrooms as students are seated close to each other and in many cases, two students are sharing one bench.
The GTU is demanding that schools be closed immediately to facilitate testing and sanitizing of the school environment.
The union said while it understands the challenges presented by online learning and that reopening schools for face-to-face is the preferred option,
persons must also be mindful that a healthy nation is needed to progress.
“The rate at which persons are getting sick due to COVID 19 infections has to be addressed now. The only way to preserve the lives of our children, teachers, and their families is to suspend all face-to-face engagements in schools”, the union said.
The GTU had warned the Ministry of Education about the sudden rush to reopen schools to face-to-face learning as COVID cases were rising steadily.
The Education Ministry went ahead with its reopening plan, ignoring many of the union’s concerns.
The union has also criticized the Chief Education Officer after it received reports of him accusing teachers of going for COVID-19 tests so that they can get time off from school.
The union said the CEO, Marcel Hudson should apologize for his statement and should also realize that many of his instructions to the schools are breaching the national COVID-19 regulations.