We’ll try our best to help unvaccinated students – Director of Education

Difficult decisions must be made to keep kids both educated and safe, officials say (Photo courtesy The Conversation)
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By Carlena Knight

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Unvaccinated students are being assured they will not be left behind where their education is concerned.

This is the stance taken by Director of Education Clare Browne who said the ministry will try its best to ensure these students do not fall through the cracks.

Browne’s comment came just a day after Education Minister Daryll Matthew announced that, due to limited resources, it was unlikely that remote learning for unvaccinated students would occur soon.

The government was hoping to institute remote learning which would allow unvaccinated students over the age of 12 to continue their instruction on the Google Classroom platform.

Although Browne agreed with the minister’s comment that there are limited resources available to offer this, he still pledged that something will be done.

“We will try our very best to assist our students remotely however we are able to. The teachers are saying it is a challenge and it is a difficult situation that we are in at this time,” Browne explained.

However, he said there needs to be a greater level of understanding from the public as the ministry is trying to navigate its way between a rock and a hard place.

He explained that difficult decisions will have to be made to find a compromise between ensuring that children are educated but also that they remain safe.

“We have to be responsible with all the decisions that we make and I have always expressed publicly that it is better to have an uneducated living child than to have an educated dead child,” he said.

“Now, children have a right to an education. Children and their teachers have a right to a safe working environment but when those two rights collide then we have to find a compromise.

“So, we have to work out something … we have to help all our children. If you choose to be unvaccinated, then it follows that you have chosen, you are electing to be under the policy to be in the remote learning environment and the Ministry of Education will try its best to assist.

“Whether through the Google Classroom, whether through learning packages, the ministry will try its best,” Browne pledged.

He continued that although the focus is on the students, the ministry must also consider the safety of its teachers. He believes that it cannot be fair for vaccinated teachers to put themselves at risk each day.

“We forget that many of our teachers have children too, so they come to work and then they go back home and you could possibly take back home whatever to your children. How fair is that? We have to come to a compromise. You see, it is not an easy, easy, easy situation,” Browne said.

“I am an educator by nature and I am always for trying to get our children to receive education, come what may, but I am also big on safety because we have a responsibility to provide education and we have a responsibility to do it safely.”

Since mandating that students 12 and older should be vaccinated against Covid-19 to continue face to face learning, the government has been faced with the decision of how it would move forward with offering wholesome education.

Parents, including those who picketed the Ministry of Education on Tuesday, claim that Google Classroom is not effective, but neither are they comfortable with having their children jabbed.

It has created an impasse regarding the future education of the nation’s youth amid the pandemic.

The most recent available figures suggest that around 6,000 of the 8,000 students eligible for a Covid jab have received one to date.

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