The Ministry of Education welcomes the inclusion of teachers in the next batch of beneficiaries of COVID-19 vaccines, as this would increase the chances of the reopening of some schools.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health said teachers are among the frontline workers who would benefit from the next round of the vaccine roll-out, which starts next week.
Meanwhile, during an interview with DPI on Friday, Chief Education Officer, Dr Marcel Hutson said immunisation would ensure teachers are safe.
“We would like all our teachers to be vaccinated so that they could operate in a context that is not fearful, and they could be happy in terms of executing their duties and responsibilities as teachers.”
He said the Ministry has engaged the Health Ministry continuously on the matter.
During a recent COVID-19 update, Health Minister, Hon. Dr Frank Anthony, had said a committee was set up between the two Ministries, and has been assessing the situation with schools. “As we get more vaccines, teachers are certainly one of the priority groups that we want to look at,” the Minister had said.
Dr. Hutson said the Education Ministry is gathering data from across the regions. This includes the areas teachers hail from, and the level of class and subjects they teach. This, he said, would enable the Ministry to put arrangements in place to have teachers safely vaccinated.
“When that time comes, we will be able to easily make the contact and have them vaccinated with the least burden in terms of having them travel far distances and so on. We’re looking at all we could [to]establish clusters or centres
Dr. Hutson explained that the aim is to ensure there is no added financial burden on teachers to access the vaccines, particularly those in hinterland communities. Once the vaccines become available, teachers can choose whether to be immunised.
The Education Ministry has been actively engaged in making sure that learning loss due to the pandemic is low over the last eight months.
Following engagements with parents, students and teachers, the Ministry reopened schools for Grades 10, 11 and 12. Additionally, workbooks and work sheets have been produced and distributed to students across all levels nationwide.