Students at the CFBC and other schools will be briefed on COVID-19. CFBC File Photo.

The Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) is urging regional governments not to rush the process for the reopening of schools to facilitate the writing of exams unless they are really prepared.

The Union says it is concerned by the decision taken by the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) at its May 8 meeting, to support the Administration of the Caribbean Examinations Council for the CSEC examinations to be held in July.

It says this is contrary to the recommended position of the Union for the sitting to be held in September 2020.

CUT believes that this unfortunate decision will place the lives of thousands of students and teachers at risk as all the issues surrounding the administering of the examination have not been addressed.

The Union is not confident that the governments of the region have demonstrated the level of preparedness for the planned reopening of schools in a safe environment.

CUT says it is aware there are some governments in the region that have reopened schools and some in short order.

It considers this to be reckless unless the requisite health provisions have been made.

The Union firmly believes that the September timeline for sitting the exams would allow for regional governments and educational administrations to adopt and implement the following benchmark proposals.

  • Implement the necessary protocols that will safeguard the health and well-being of all stakeholders.

  • Establish the infrastructure that will allow for new normal operations in all education communities, namely enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices and equipment in addition to enabling access to Personal Protective Equipment.

  • Formalize appropriate support structures through social and political dialogue for vulnerable and affected members of educational communities to include counseling and funding.

  • Engage teachers and their unions in designing/determining the pedagogies, digital tools and platforms and that can be used to continue education during the temporary school closures.

  • Provide government secured Information communication technology and digital technologies that will maintain students’ engagement in times of crisis as well as the requisite training for teachers in new normal modalities.

  • Educate and update members of the educational community about the new normal practices and procedures.

  • Use the expertise and professionalism of educators and their unions to determine and assess the impact of school closures and teaching, learning and student well-being and develop a framework for transitioning back to on-site teaching and learning.