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BUT blasts education department over holiday row

The Bermuda Union of Teachers (File photograph)

Teachers have defended taking tomorrow as a half-term break – and fired a broadside at the Department of Education.

The Bermuda Union of Teachers said the Government request to use the holiday to catch up on lessons lost because of the coronavirus clampdown was “badly timed” and a Government statement on the row was “a basic and classic deflection, designed to take pressure off the ministry and put it on this union”.

A spokesman insisted: “This union, however, will not be dragged through the mud so that ministry inefficiency can go unnoticed again.”

The news came after education authorities said last night that parents had expressed concern about the holiday going ahead – but that the BUT had “respectfully declined our request” to work on the holiday.

The department’s statement made no reference to the annual Agricultural Exhibition, which would have started tomorrow, but was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the union said the break was fixed by law and was “not, and never was, connected to the annual Agricultural Exhibition”.

The BUT said the idea of using the holiday as a catch-up day for the four days lost when the Easter break started early had not been raised with the union until Monday.

The spokesman added that it had been asked to respond to the “last minute request” by Wednesday.

He said: “Having already assured our school reps, and thereby our entire membership, that this Friday is our General Orders mandated fixed midterm break and will be considered a ’no work’ day, we could not then rescind that communication with just days left before the date in question, so we declined the Commissioner of Education’s request.”

The BUT said it accepted “certain things have to be implemented at short notice” but added that “this is not one of those times”.

The spokesman accused the ministry of waiting until this week to “ambush us with a request they knew we’d need approval from our entire membership to accept”.

“This is not ethical practice.”

He added: “To now be thrown under a bus so that the ministry can deflect pressure is insulting, disheartening, and petty.”

The union also accused the ministry of an “odious, demonising tactic” against its members, which it said were under increased stress and work during remote learning.

The spokesman said: “This, therefore, feels like a sudden slap in the face during a period of relative harmony – a truly unfortunate development indeed.”

The BUT added it would demand that similar requests were put forward in “a timely manner”.

⋅ To read the BUT statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published April 22, 2021 at 1:12 pm (Updated April 22, 2021 at 1:15 pm)

BUT blasts education department over holiday row

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