Tabaquite MP and shadow education minister Anita Haynes is displeased with the Education Ministry’s “slow response” in deciding to close schools owing to bad weather.
Trinidad and Tobago is under a yellow-level adverse weather alert which is set to end on Friday at 12pm. Since Wednesday thaere has also been an orange-level riverine alert warning of a severe risk to public safety, livelihood and property
Numerous areas across both islands experienced flooding on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly told Newsday some schools were being closed on a request basis.
Then the Office of the Prime Minister posted a release saying other than schools in affected areas being allowed to close on a request basis, the Prime Minister had not ordered schools closed.
Just after 7am on Thursday, Gadsby-Dolly said all schools were to be closed, via a post on social media platforms.
Haynes said the “last-minute” closure left many students already stranded at school.
“This is why we say the government is out of touch.
"Not only were a number of schools affected by yesterday’s widespread flooding, the Prime Minister himself told citizens who were concerned for the safety of their families and their households that no permission was granted for the closure of government offices and schools.
“This morning, we have an announcement an hour before classes are scheduled to begin that schools are to remain closed today. By this time, several (sic) students were already at school, pushing parents and children into a frenzy.”
She said this showed the government responds slowly to crises, adding that it was not the first time schools had been ordered closed on short notice, and pointed out that many parents who do not have assistance with childcare or cannot take sudden leave from work would have been unable to do so. She also said children’s and adults’ travelling schedules were not taken into consideration.
“An announcement at 7am just goes to show that there is a disconnect between the office holders making decisions and the people who are affected.
“Where is the all-of-government approach we keep hearing about? Following the flooding yesterday, was there no disaster-management communication between state agencies regarding shelter provision and the protection of citizens who may be at risk?"
She said it was unacceptable that the ministry continued to issue short-notice, impromptu announcements, wasting the time during which people could make preparations or adjustments.