MoE closes schools Tuesday to accommodate Teachers Union meeting; parents unhappy at further loss of classroom time

With all public schools closed by the Ministry of Education today, October 4, some disappointed parents are complaining that the academic year has just opened and there has been too much home time after the long summer break.

Students were asked not to attend classes today in order to accommodate an important meeting between the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) and its membership.

The Ministry of Education says it took this decision to ensure that children would not be left unattended while the Teachers Union consults with its members.

The Union had threatened industrial action today, October 4, if government schools were not provided 24-hour security by yesterday, October 3 – since the given deadline of September 15 has passed.

According to an official notice, today’s meeting was called for President Casroy Charles to update teachers on decisions that were taken at Monday’s meeting on the matter with the Minister of Education.

Reports say the Ministry has put a proposal to the Union, and this is what is being discussed.  However, REAL News has not yet ascertained whether the offer has been accepted by the general membership.

Meanwhile, in addition to there being no classes today, the Ministry says it will also allow public schools to close early on Wednesday, October 5, which is World Teachers Day.  The early closure will accommodate teachers who wish to take part in activities that commemorate the day.

But one parent is not at all pleased with the Ministry.  She points to all the face time – between students and teachers – that was missed for the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic; when Tropical Storm Fiona was expected to hit this country; and then on the day of the late Queen’s burial.

While she has no issue with the teachers’ position, the woman says, she blames the Government for always dragging its feet and forcing its employees to go to the extreme in order to get what is their due.

Another woman says the Government can do better.  She notes that parents customarily put plans in place for the holiday periods; but when time-off from school is suddenly dropped on them, it puts parents in an awkward position.

Working parents will have to find alternative arrangements at short notice to ensure that their children are looked after until they get home, she adds.

The mother says she has the utmost respect for the country’s educators, and she blames the Gaston Browne Administration for the situation they are facing, which adversely affects students and parents, as well.