NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson encouraged teachers across the archipelago to call in late yesterday morning as the national examinations continued.
In a voice note sent to teachers, Wilson said: “We would like for you to call in that you will be late. So, you will call your school; you will inform them that you will be late. Please make the call by 9.30 am.”
She asked that teachers present to schools no later than 10.45am to enable them to sign in before 11am.
This is the latest move as tensions increase between the BUT and the Ministry of Education.
Scores of teachers called out on Monday as the exams began, following an unofficial poll in which teachers “voted for action”.
According to the union, the action was in support of teachers who have been impacted and infected by COVID-19; Family Island teachers who were stranded in New Providence and other Family Islands; and colleagues and their families who have lost loved ones due to the virus.
The union has also lamented teachers having to pay for their own COVID-19 tests, and what she said was the proposed cut of salaries of teachers who have had to quarantine for 14-days “due to no fault of their own”.
In her call to action, she said teachers were also calling out to support “teachers who have taken care of the nation’s children for many, many years, but now they have no one to keep their children”.
There have been several confirmed cases of COVID-19 at a number of schools since teachers returned to campuses on September 7.
Wilson, who claimed more than 1,000 teachers called out on Monday, thanked them for their show of support.
However, Director of Education Marcellus Taylor disputed the figure.
He said between 400 and 500 teachers called out, the majority of whom were in New Providence.
Taylor made clear that the invigilating of the national exams was not impacted as only a small proportion of the student population at each school were attending to sit exams.
“As far as we know, what action was taken didn’t interrupt the ability to [manage] the exams,” Taylor told Eyewitness News.
The director said while education officials were not pleased with the number of teachers who did call out from work, the teachers who remained and additional invigilators managed without incident.
He said fewer than 10 teachers called out in Grand Bahama, and the numbers in the Family Islands were smaller than that.