Less than a week before public and private schools that comply with the protocol established by the Department of Health (DS) resume face-to-face classes in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, concern grows among the organizations that represent the teachers for the way the process has been carried out.
The president of the Puerto Rico Teachers Association (AMPR), Víctor Bonilla Sánchez, said yesterday that face-to-face classes in the public education system should begin in August. He stated that the Department of Education (DE) has not informed them the number or name of the schools that have been authorized to receive students, despite the fact that the organization is the exclusive representative of the teachers who work in the public system.
The designated Secretary of Education, Elba Aponte, advanced Sunday to THE SPOKESMAN that the announcement will be made this coming Thursday. However, the information that the AMPR has received from principals and teachers indicates that some 23 schools are opening.
The schools are located in the municipalities of Ponce, Bayamón, Toa Baja, Yauco, Corozal, Arroyo and Rincón, according to the information that the AMPR had yesterday. “We totally agree that it would be uphill to reopen (and start with) face-to-face classes,” he said.
Bonilla Sánchez considered it outrageous that parents do not know if the school where their son studies is one of those that will reopen in this phase. “We have done our exercise of responsibility and we can already know of 23 schools that have leaked, how is the situation of the school in the physical plant, if it has the faculty, if it has the nursing staff,” he said.
The AMPR had conducted a survey and 92% of the teachers reported that they agreed to start the work now in March. “I want to make it clear that the teacher is going to work because the teacher is responsible for imparting our bread of teaching. If they decide to open 10 schools in March – as is the government’s purpose – I know that the fellow teachers are going to be there because of their commitment, because of their loyalty, ”said Bonilla Sánchez.
For her part, the general secretary of the AMPR Local Union, Grichelle Toledo, said that there are several things that concern them. “Although the protocol – as we have well established – is a complete document and is well structured in some parts, it raises some concerns because we know the use and custom of Education,” said Toledo.
Victory for transients
Yesterday at the press conference, it was classified as a victory in favor of the Puerto Rican teachers that last Friday the Court of San Juan issued an order for the execution of the sentence, to pay the salary increase of $ 500 per year to temporary educators, according to to what was approved in the 2019-2020 fiscal plan.
However, the court still needs to issue the order for the execution of the judgment to proceed with the payment of the increase of $ 1,500 per year that was approved as part of the 2018-2019 fiscal plan, of which the AMPR already has a judgment in favor of the transitory teachers. The AMPR is hopeful that the court will resolve in the same way.
The teachers’ union estimates that in general, the DE has over 5,000 temporary teachers every year, so they understand it is a “large” group of educators who would be receiving the increase.
Before the announcement, the designated Secretary of Education —who was president of the AMPR — reacted by saying: “As I had anticipated to the Teachers Association, (in) the Department of Education we will comply with the payment (of) temporary teachers. This means a disbursement of $ 22.7 million. The procedures with OGP have already started. We will always support any initiative that is for the benefit (of) our educators ”.