Rabain stands firm over teaching union demands on return to class Covid tests
Teachers must sacrifice time over the Christmas holidays to get tested for Covid-19 before they went back to school, the education minister insisted yesterday.
Diallo Rabain hit out after the Bermuda Union of Teachers told its members to refuse to take the mandatory tests during their time off after the Government scheduled appointments before their January 4 return to school date.
Mr Rabain said last night that tests would only be available in the three-day run-up to the return of teachers to the classrooms — despite a BUT plea for the tests to be carried out on January 4.
He explained: “Due to the volume of testing required and to allow the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory adequate time to deliver the results, it was necessary for testing to take place in advance of January 4 when teachers are scheduled to return to work in preparation for schools opening on the fifth.
“Testing on January 4 would not allow sufficient time needed to process the large volumes of tests and could lead to delays in students returning to the classroom.”
The Government extended the test schedule by two days to include January 2 and 3 after the BUT complained about the test schedule.
Mr Rabain said yesterday that the change from one day — January 1 — to three days was “inadvertently” not released to the BUT and apologised.
But the new schedule still did not meet the union’s demand for teachers to be tested on January 4.
The BUT also told members not to do any other work-related duties over the holidays.
The union refused to say if its members would turn up for testing or work over the Christmas break.
A spokesman said yesterday: “The BUT has no response at this time”.
The news came as the One Bermuda Alliance appealed to education officials to be flexible towards teachers and school staff in “unprecedented times”.
Susan Jackson, the shadow education minister, said: “Parents are undoubtedly anxious about the reopening of schools and any further disruptions which could cause additional childcare provisions could have negative implications for families.
“To potentially create further loss of wages or young students being left home unsupervised because their parents have to work is not tenable.
“There has to be some sort of balance between the BUT and the Department of Education in order for all students to be the real winners in this situation. Give and take on both sides is paramount.”
A schools staff page has been created to book Covid-19 test appointments on January 1 and 2 all day and on January 3 from 10am to noon.