We need multiple guards
August 28, 2020

We need multiple guards

Those of us who are familiar with the game of cricket would know that sometimes batters are presented with multiple challenges whilst at the crease. The stance which works for one bowler may not necessarily be suited to combat another of differing variety. It may even call for a change of the original “guard” taken, or sometimes employing different guards for different bowlers.

It is a lesson not confined to the cricket field for we can learn from it in life itself, facing up to disparate situations. What may work in one situation may not be applicable to another, occasioning the need for flexibility. At all times though, success can only come if one is always vigilant and can spot the dangers early so as to allow for a change of tactics.

Thus far St Vincent and the Grenadines, thanks to sober political leadership and excellent work by our health professionals and NEMO, has been able to chart its way through the turbulent waters occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet as we recognize this, it is important that we do not become complacent.

A major challenge lies before us in the reopening of schools and our management of it. This calls for an “All hands on deck” approach. This does not mean that there may not be differences in approach by the major actors. Thus there are varying opinions among parents for instance as to whether the timing to reopen schools is right. Teachers too will have their opinions as in fact manifested by the leadership of the Teachers Union. But we must be able to make the distinction between major contradictions and secondary ones and, the decision having been made, try to resolve those differences placing the interests of our students first but not ignoring the valid concerns of our teachers on the frontline.

It is no time for hostility, nor must government continue to tolerate the irresponsible actions of a tiny minority of public servants who by not placing their shoulders to the wheel can jeopardize the health of our entire nation. In the crisis situation which faces our nation, we cannot be tolerant of the unproductive and uncooperative. Sacrifice must be borne by all of us and the burden shared.

In addition to the COVID threat another one has arisen with implications for schools reopening. Dengue fever has reappeared throughout the region and is now a very real threat as our children prepare to re-enter schools. We have been focusing our efforts on COVID but up comes a bowler of a different type, to use the cricketing analogy.

This requires us not to take our eyes off the COVID threat, but to recognize that we now face another threat from the other bowling end. Have we been complacent in recent times where fighting the aedes aegypti mosquito is concerned? There are now fortunately health warnings imploring efforts at a personal level. To these we must add renewed emphasis on the schools reopening, sensitizing teachers, parents and children alike.

But there is also the physical surroundings, including the sanitary conditions of schools and the general environment. In this we need to lift our game. Take the conditions of our drains for instance. Government has just carried out a general road-cleaning exercise, but look at the condition of the drains which have been supposedly “cleaned”!

The general cleaning up cannot just be seen as a public handout, it is a vital public health measure which must be approached with the seriousness it deserves. We have to be on guard on all fronts.