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SJBA: September school re-opening could affect job security of parents

“The decision to not open school until September will impact upon business and in particular female employees with children.

“The San Juan Business Association (SJBA) is concerned [that] with the length of time female workers are forced to stay at home, their jobs will then become redundant…”

In the following press statement, San Juan Business Association (SJBA) president Vivek Charran suggests that waiting until September to restart schools could impact negatively on the job security of their parents or caregivers:

Photo: A family plays a board game at home.

The San Juan Business Association seeks answers on the possible decision of delaying the re-opening of schools until September 2020. The decision to not open school until September will impact upon business and in particular female employees with children.

The SJBA is concerned [that] with the length of time female workers are forced to stay at home, their jobs will then become redundant. Women, and indeed all parents forced to stay home and look after their children, will find themselves in for a tough time ahead both in terms of earning income and job security.

It is a stressful situation indeed and requires a delicate balancing act with the authorities, both public and private, working as a coalition to provide suitable remedies.

The SJBA has acknowledged the worthy efforts made by the present administration to curb potential disasters associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, most notably the economic and social fallouts. The Association would also like to laud Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for assembling an economic recovery response team, and we look forward with great interest to their proposals.

In a concerted effort, however, to advise those with the authority to make change, the non-opening of schools for such a lengthy time may well have an adverse effect on well-formulated economic plans.

Photo: Students at Belmont Secondary School smile for the cameras during a visit from two-time Olympian Jehue Gordon.
(Copyright BBC.co.uk)

The SJBA expresses fervent hope the needs and concerns of non-essential small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their affected employees are central to the task force’s discussions.

It is arguable these small business owners and their employees are bearing the greatest financial burden in this time.

One would have expected that once it is deemed proper and safe to remove lockdown measures and reopen the economy then, it would follow that schools and day-care centres would also reopen in due course within a reasonable period and not a period of four to five months later.

Recent reports from the administration have revealed job losses could reach as high as 80,000 with some 34,000 needy citizens applying for government assisted grants to get through these trying times.

The SJBA contends most of these would be working mothers, sisters, wives and valued employees at companies, who build and support our country through their commercial actions. And have now been forced into breadline poverty.

We call on the PNM administration, particularly the Minister of Education Anthony Garcia, to ensure the nation’s students are returned to educational institutions in a timely manner, and of course, in accordance with all health regulations.

As the late Prime Minister, father of our nation and PNM stalwart Dr Eric Williams famously said ‘the future of our nation is in our children’s schoolbags’. Please do not allow this valuable resource to rot any further.

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