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St Vincent PM warns teachers to get vaccinated, COVID tested or leave

Published:Thursday | April 8, 2021 | 9:40 AM
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves. Under the policy, all employees of the central government or statutory entities are required to submit their COVID-19 vaccination report or be tested at least once every two weeks for the virus - Contributed photo.

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has told teachers ahead of Monday’s re-opening of schools that they should have a government-approved coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine or have been tested for the virus, otherwise they would be asked to leave the compound.

Gonsalves made the announcement on a radio programme, as he continued to defend his government’s vaccination or test policy for public sector workers.

Under the policy, all employees of the central government or statutory entities are required to submit their COVID-19 vaccination report or be tested at least once every two weeks for the virus.

He told listeners that on Thursday and Friday “we are asking the teachers across the whole of St Vincent and the Grenadines, the areas where you are from, go to your clinic, take the test.

“If everybody could take it, fine. You take the test or you take the vaccine. Preferably, you take the vaccine. If all of you go and you take the vaccine, that is fine,” Gonsalves said, adding that 331 teachers or 17 per cent of the nation’s educators have taken the vaccine.

“When you go in to the principal on the 12th [of April] you say, ‘well, listen, I am vaccinated or I am tested.’ No big thing. If you are not, you will be asked, ‘listen, you can’t stay on the compound until you go and get vaccinated or tested’.”

“On the 12th, I am informed that the Ministry of Health would have health personnel available to go also to test,” Gonsalves said, adding that getting vaccinated or testing is “a matter of solidarity.”

Last Saturday, President of the Public Service Union Elroy Boucher said that public sector workers have adhered to the COVID-19 protocols so well that there have not been any outbreaks at any government department or agency since the shift system ended on March 17.

Gonsalves, however, said that there are a number of government offices where COVID-19 has resulted in days-long closures.

He did not indicate when these closures occurred but listed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Registry, the Attorney General’s Chambers, Director of Public Prosecution’s Chambers, the Accountant General’s Office, and the Ministry of Social Development.

“There are several places… so we have the history and what is prospective about all the variants and so on and forth and we have the vaccine and we have to return to normalcy and we have Soufriere,” Gonsalves said, referring to the nation’s volcano, which has been erupting effusively since late December.

Meanwhile, in a memo to principals of educational institutions on Wednesday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Myccle Burke, noted that the government, through a March 31, 2021 memorandum, has communicated “a policy on vaccination and testing of the public sector workers”.

He said that consistent with the policy position of the government, all teachers and ancillary staff are required to submit to the Ministry of Education through their respective principal, a copy of their vaccination card or recent COVID-19 rapid antigen test results, no later than 1:30 p.m. on April 9, 2021.

“The Ministry of Health and the Environment has committed to providing the resources to execute this critical activity in preparation for the scheduled reopening of school on April 12, 2021,” Burke said.

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