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TTUTA Tobago Officer Bradon Roberts

The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Tobago division says the union fully supports and appreciates the Government’s call for children to be fully vaccinated.

It is hoping a meeting with Tobago House of Assembly (THA) today, will lead to the division giving similar attention to longstanding school physical infrastructure and teachers’ terms of employment issues. The THA said it will address the issues.

“TTUTA has been supporting the Government’s drive to have as many of the citizens vaccinated as possible. We have been providing our teachers with information. We have been directing them to sources where they can be better informed so that they can make educated decisions,” TTUTA Tobago officer Bradon Roberts told Guardian Media yesterday.

He added: “Similarly, for parents, we have been providing them with information, advising them to reach out to health practitioners…to get that medical advice.”

However, Roberts said the Government needs to try to combat vaccine misinformation.

“The Government is flooding the system with information about the vaccine and hoping that it will drown out the noise of the misinformation. The Government needs to listen to persons spreading misinformation and counter those arguments.”

The union says it feels teachers’ issues should also be addressed.

“We have schools that are infested with termites and some have mould. The situation is getting worse as the schools are closed. If the situation remains for another three more years, then millions more will have to be spent to fix it,” Roberts said.

He said the division has been saying for years it has limited funds, but noted something as important as education should get more funding.

Education Secretary Marslyn Melville-Jack said she would lead a team of officials, including the division’s Administrator and the Human Resources Officer II, to the meeting with TTUTA.

“I want to reassure them that we are doing everything necessary to ensure that the human, physical and infrastructural needs of schools are addressed in the shortest time possible,” the Secretary told Guardian Media.

She said other issues are already addressed.

“We also ensured that vacant positions for teachers were filled and we are putting efficient structures in place to handle age-old outstanding issues of teachers’ increments and appointments.”

She said all department heads met yesterday to ensure schools are ready for the reopening of virtual schools on September 6.

“The division continues to hold the health and safety of students as its number one priority. We are committed to providing equitable, accessible, quality education to all of Tobago’s children,” Melville-Jack said.

Meanwhile, Tobago’s COVID-19-related deaths now stand at 61, after an 83-year-old woman with commodities died within the past 24-hour reporting period, according to the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development.

The division said 19 new COVID cases were recorded in the 24-hour reporting period, taking the total number of active cases to 508. Of those, 466 are in home isolation, 38 in state isolation, and four in the intensive care unit.

As of 10 pm on Monday, 17,530 people got their first dose of the COVID vaccine, and 12,253 got their two doses.