The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) has promised to submit a detailed document outlining its definitive position on various issues during the COVID-19 disruption to the Ministry of Education by today.

The agreement followed a virtual meeting yesterday in which the two entities discussed how the forced closure of educational institutions will affect stakeholders and the actions planned by the Government to ensure there is no disruption to the learning process.

Yesterday’s meeting came a day after Garcia announced that it was unlikely schools could reopen before the start of the new academic year in September, since it was now impossible to meet the initial April 20 date Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had announced.

Shortly after the meeting, which lasted just under one hour yesterday, TTUTA president Antonia Tekah-De Freitas said, “The minister reiterated the position in terms of the restructuring of the term and he asked for TTUTA’s position, so we shared some ideas and will clarify our position on that at our general council meeting tomorrow (today) and then submit a document in writing on that matter.

“We expressed concerns previously articulated about access, connectivity and availability of devices. Also, student motivation to join the ICT platforms, preparation of work and the scheduling of exams.”

Tekah-De Freitas said Garcia indicated, “a willingness to hold hands with TTUTA on the way forward because definitely, after the Cabinet takes a decision in terms of the use of online learning and restructuring of the school term, there will be a need to continue discussions on the other matters.”

TTUTA’s general council will also host a virtual meeting of their members today.

Asked if the two groups discussed the survey to gauge where teachers and students were at in terms of online teaching and learning which ministry officials had proposed, Tekah-De Freitas said, “The matter was raised about teachers’ interaction with the online platform and teachers’ performance of duties during that period from April 20th onward, and I would want to leave that right now at the point where the general council of TTUTA will make a decision on that tomorrow (today).”

Garcia later confirmed that TTUTA would submit their position in writing.

On Tuesday, the minister indicated that he would be taking a note to the Cabinet today which would contain recommendations for the remainder of the academic school year 2019/2020 and also for the next academic year 2020/2021.

As a result of the sudden closure of schools, students were unable to complete term two of the academic year 2019/2020 and as local COVID-19 response mechanisms remain in place, the possibility of term three being lost also looms. If a September start is also not possible, Garcia has proposed a start of the new academic year from January 2021, with three terms compressed into two spanning January to June 2021.