One week into the return of face-to-face classes for forms four-six vaccinated students, Tobago teachers are experiencing burnout, Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association Tobago officer Bradon Roberts told Newsday on Friday.
Roberts said teachers are overstretching themselves attending physical classes while trying to facilitate students at home on the online platform.
Face-to-face classes for vaccinated upper school students resumed on October 4 in Tobago with more teachers than students – 209 students and 618 teachers.
In what was described as “a challenging week,” Roberts called on teachers to focus on their specified tasks.
"We would stay firm and advise our teachers to work within their remit and to not engage students at night and early on mornings trying to balance both systems.
"Some teachers use their own devices and internet to try to reach those who are in class and at home at the same time – teachers will get in trouble with this. I know they have good intentions, because a teacher cannot turn off their care for students."
Roberts said is extremely difficult for teachers to facilitate vaccinated and unvaccinated groups segregated.
"What would happen is both groups will suffer because students in the class won't get the full attention when teachers are balancing online and physical classes... Everybody will end up getting less than they ought to and teachers are already becoming burnt out because they trying to manage everything when managing one is already difficult.
“This has been straining their emotional and mental capacity. Therefore, we are going to encourage them to stay within the guidelines, because it will only stress them out further.”
Roberts blamed the Division of Education, Innovation and Energy for failing to address the concerns of the teachers.
“If officials at the division were listening all along it would have been something they would have expected. What needs to happen is the division needs to think of the risk that they took and know the hardships they are putting on people."
He said teachers are also raising concerns about health and safety on the school compound. “At some schools, the labs aren’t completed and at the Scarborough Secondary school the water pump system is down for a very long time, and the division knows this.
“Tobago’s education is at free-fall right now. No teacher at this time could say how they know if they are reaching all their children.”
Although Roberts couldn’t give exact figures of the student turnout for the week, he said principals said the numbers remained significantly low.
Attempts throughout the week to reach the secretary for the division Marslyn Melville-Jack were unsuccessful.
Questions were forwarded to the Minister of Education Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. She said she is expected to get a summary of the attendance in the first week soon.