Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves
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July 12, 2022
It’s possible teachers could return to classrooms if there’s no spike in Covid-19 cases – PM

Prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has said there are questions which may emerge soon concerning teachers who were deemed to have abandoned their jobs after their failure to take the COVID-19 vaccine last year.

Speaking on the Issues at Hand programme on WE FM on Sunday, July 10 Gonsalves reflected that we have had carnival and if over the next few days there is not a spike in COVID-19 cases the possibility exists that these teachers may be returned to the classrooms.

“Now that we are starting afresh…what is the situation of those teachers in a new epidemiological situation, or an altered epidemiological situation as far as covid is concerned?”

Last year, several teachers and other public officers who were classified as frontline workers, refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine as mandated by an SR&O which the government had put in place.

“Should those teachers who did not take the vaccine and who under the Law, where there was a requirement for them to take it, and when they didn’t take it, they had abandoned their jobs under the Law.

“Whether they should be offered to return, if they wish to return?”

“And on what conditions should they return?”

Gonsalves asked on the Sunday morning programme.

Up to the time of publication St Vincent and the Grenadines had recorded 114 covid-related deaths.

Of these deaths, 105 persons had been unvaccinated, one was partially vaccinated and eight had been fully vaccinated.

According to information provided by the coronavirus Taskforce, 30,916 persons have had their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 36,810 persons have had their first dose.

The prime minister told listeners on Sunday that questions also arise in relation to the vaccine,mask wearing, and also testing.

The US government has recently provided the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines with more than 4,000 doses of vaccines for children 5-11 years old.

With these vaccines now available to children, Gonsalves wondered “what would parents say in relation to the liberalization of any condition.

“Would the parents feel that an unvaccinated teacher is safe to have in the classroom still, in relation to their children?”

He also queried about “the vaccinated teacher, like the unvaccinated teacher inside of the staffroom.”

The prime minister said this issue is “not only about those teachers who chose not to take the vaccine and who did not meet the requirement in Law.”

He said these are questions which are likely to emerge within the next couple of weeks.

“It is not unreasonable for anyone to give consideration to their emergence or re-emergence, but it is not a simple straightforward issue,” Gonsalves pointed out.

He further stated that the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Simone Keizer-Beache, is fundamental to this issue.

“Fundamental to all this is what would be the advice tendered by the Chief Medical Officer, and those who are entrusted in Law to provide relevant advice to the state authorities in making determinations.”

With the carnival celebrations recently concluded, Gonsalves hoped to provide a framework for possible consideration of a solution to this matter.