Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has weighed in on the situation at the West St George Secondary School where teachers recently staged a ‘sit in’ at their staffroom in solidarity with all their unvaccinated colleagues.
Gonsalves, speaking on his Face-to-Face programme on Wednesday, appealed to those teachers not to punish the students by going to school and not teaching them.
He says there are two obligations high on the totem pole, the safety of the children and the education of the children.
The prime minister says if teachers want to go to school and stay in their staffroom, he can instruct the Ministry of Education to hire other teachers to go and teach.
Gonsalves says he has also given instructions to the Ministry, if need be, not only there but anywhere else, to hire retired teachers on short term contracts. He adds that he will make a Cabinet decision that they (retired teachers) will continue to get their pension and whatever payment they get under the new contract.
“You want to go to school and stay in the staffroom? I ain’t send any police to move you. I will just get somebody else to teach people’s children including, if necessary, retired teachers and I will pass a Cabinet decision to have them paid whatever their remuneration under the new contract (short term ) whilst they still continue to get their pension for what they have served already.”
That is how high on the totem pole I put the children, says the prime minister.
Gonsalves notes he has nothing personal against anybody who is choosing not to take the vaccine within the framework of the regulations but is urging them to make the rationale and clear choice.
“If you decide you are not taking it, choices have consequences,” says the prime minister.