Rohan Isles Addresses Teachers On The Eve of A New Academic School Year

Former colleagues, friends, teachers, members of the ancillary staff, the cooks, secretaries, security personnel, crossing guards, janitors as well as sports officers; I bring you fraternal greetings, on the eve of the official opening of school for the new academic year 2021-2022.

Once again, the nation turns its attention to you, for entrusted to your care, is the economic, social, political and religious future of our island. For the past two years, school has reopened under different and unprecented conditions, conditions which have changed the way we as teachers interact with our students. Like you have done time and time again, you have navigated those challenges, and have emerged victorious. ‘Thank You’ alone will never be enough.

This school year, the conditions have heightened and the challenges are greater. Amidst the increased number of COVID-19 cases and the detection of the Delta variant, much more emphasis has been placed on the safety of our, most prized resources, our children. Much has been said about the sheer volume of unvaccinated individuals who consider teaching their profession. I know I am aware of the human dignity that allows for freedom of choice and one which support fully. However, I am equally aware that as teachers, you are highly cognizant of the fact, that with such a right comes undeniable responsibility. This responsibility, beckons you as humans, to do what comes naturally, to protect yourselves.

Vaccination remains a powerful tool in the fight against the deadly effects of the Corona Virus and should you be so compelled, get Vaccinated. The greatest mitigation against this virus is, to not contract it, and the best method is to vigorously adhere to the non pharmaceutical measures that have without question saved millions of lives.

You are being asked to do something that you have done for years, that is, to protect our children. As teachers, this is something you have done for centuries, a practice to which you have continually adjusted and accepted the roles of doctor, nurse, lawyer, police, scientists, counselors, best friends, mothers and fathers in the absence of such. You have provided hope in despair and light in darkness. You have given inspiration in hopes of propelling young minds to dream big and aim for higher than their dreams. You have always protected our children and not just in the physical sense.

However, in this climate of Covid-19, fear and uncertainty, in order to protect our children, you must first protect You. Wear your masks properly, sanitize or wash your hands and get vaccinated should you choose to. Engage them as to why it is important to go through with all these measures, so they understand and appreciate what you are doing. Remember as teachers, we are seldom wrong in their eyes. It is that trust that they have reposed in you, that renders you the perfect protection agents.

When the school gates are opened tomorrow officially, I am confident that you will be as you have always been- soldiers on the academic battlefield, autographing your work with excellence. As such, let me congratulate you now, on what I know will be an excellent school year. Go with God, knowing His grace and mercy will light the path you trod in these difficult times. I join parents across the island, in prayers and support for you.

God bless you and be safe!

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