The Guyana Teachers Union has called on teachers to down tools and be part of nationwide strike action over the government’s vaccination policy and the unpreparedness of many schools to return to face-to-face learning.
The decision to go on strike from today was made during a meeting last evening between executives of the Guyana Teachers Union and teachers from across the country.
Under the government’s vaccination policy, unvaccinated teachers are prohibited from entering the school compound unless they provide a recent negative COVID-19 PCR test result.
The government’s position has resulted in scores of teachers across the country being locked out of the school compound and in some instances, the Police being called in to remove them from the school compound because they are unvaccinated.
During last evening’s meeting, teachers expressed their concern about the situation. Some schools have been forced to close their doors one day after reopening after it was learnt that teachers might have come into contact with persons who are infected with the virus. There have also been cases where teachers and other staff members although vaccinated have tested positive for COVID-19 and are now unable to attend classes.
The GTU has accused the government of being high-handed in its approach while ignoring the concerns of teachers. The Union has advised that for the next three days teachers will be on strike from all types of teaching including virtual sessions.
The union maintains that teachers should be allowed the choice to be vaccinated and if they do not want to be vaccinated, the Ministry of Education should stand the costs for the regular PCR COVID-19 test that it is demanding in the absence of vaccination.
The Ministry of Education is not happy with the decision by the teachers to begin strike action from today.
In a late-night statement, the Education Ministry described the move as uncaring and unconscionable.
The Education Ministry said the move by the GTU to call strike action at this time is irresponsible and not reflective of the realities of the present state of the COVID-19 pandemic nor the needs of the children.
The Government made a decision to reopen schools on Monday in the midst of a new surge in COVID-19 cases across the country. There are currently more than 2300 active cases of the virus. The Health Minister has warned that the faster spreading Delta variant is in Guyana and cases will continue to rise.