B.U.T. Extremely Concerned Regarding Teacher Workload and Substitute Coverage

Yesterday Tuesday May 7, teacher at Harrington Sound Primary School staged what is believed to be a sick out leaving the school Principal to close the facility as there were not enough teachers to teach classes. The Principal called parents to collect their children. The Bermuda Union of Teachers ( B.U.T) issued a statement on the shortage of teachers in the Education system.

We would like to address ongoing concerns within our educational community regarding teacher workload and substitute coverage. Our teachers have been working tirelessly throughout the year, frequently stepping in to cover classes due to inadequate substitute coverage.

This situation has placed significant stress on our dedicated professionals, many of whom are sacrificing their planning and preparation time to ensure our students continue to receive quality education.

The current Department of Education protocols for substitute coverage are proving to be
insufficient. Teachers are often left with no choice but to double up on classes, sometimes
accommodating more than 25 students in a single classroom. This not only impacts the quality of instruction, but also places a heavy burden on our teachers, leading to exhaustion and, ultimately, affecting their health and well-being.

According to our collective bargaining agreement (CBA), there should always be enough substitutes on the list to cover any shortage. Unfortunately, this requirement is not currently being met, and it is creating disruptions in teaching and learning and exacerbating the stress on our teachers.

We also want to highlight a key issue: there are many experienced and qualified teachers who are eager to join the substitute list, but they are being informed that the list is full. Yet there continues to be a significant shortage of substitute teachers; which compounds the pressure on our current teachers, and compromises their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance – which is vital.

Additionally, the lack of qualified substitutes means that support staff, who are not trained as
teachers, are being asked to cover classes. This has a direct impact on students, who are losing
valuable instruction time as a result.

We urge the Department of Education to re-evaluate its protocols for substitute coverage, and take immediate action to expand the list to include more qualified professionals. With all the incumbent stresses that come with being a professional educator already weighing down on teachers, not having the peace of mind that comes with knowing your students will be provided adequate coverage if you fall ill, is just too much.

We are at a crossroads today, because no school should have to close due to a lack of substitute
teachers, or be forced to operate under unsafe conditions. This outcome is avoidable with proper planning and adherence to our CBA. We urge the Department to work collaboratively with us to ensure that our teachers and students receive the support they need to maintain a high-quality educational environment.

We remain steadfast and committed to supporting our teachers and advocating for changes that will enhance teaching and learning in the Bermuda Public School System.

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