School year may be extended to make up for ‘Teacher’s Flu’ days
By John McPhaul
Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés announced on Thursday that he is inclined to extend the school semester as a result of absences taken by teachers in order to participate in protests in recent days.
“It is an issue that we are going to be evaluating and in all probability, yes, an adjustment will be made,” the secretary said at a press conference.
However, extending the school semester is a matter that is supposed to be discussed with representatives of the Puerto Rico Teachers Association, who have already made it known that they will not approve the extension.
Ramos Parés had previously established that if the high level of absenteeism continued as a result of the protests, the semester would be extended until June 10.
After teachers met with the governor on Thursday and some understanding was reached about a salary increase and the conditions of retirement, the Education secretary said he hopes that the so-called “Teacher’s Flu” absences will end.
“I have faith that tomorrow we will return to the classroom to receive all our students normally,” Ramos Parés said.
The request for teachers to refrain from using absenteeism as a tool of protest was one of those made by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia at the meeting with spokespersons for the Teachers Association and the Federation of Teachers, UNETE, Educamos, Secretary of State Omar Marrero Díaz, Retirement Systems Director Luis Collazo Rodríguez and the governor’s labor adviser, Yamil Ayala Cruz.
“That was the commitment expressed at the meeting by the different unions, that with this agreement classes are going to be restarted and the streets are to be left behind,” Marrero Díaz said.
“Of course, if we don’t reach agreements within a stipulated time that is prudent, you know that the teaching profession is going to respond as it has responded during these days,” said Liza Fournier, the president of UNETE. “Tomorrow the teachers must return to the classroom, but that does not mean that we are going to stop the militancy, because there are several scheduled actions.”
As part of the actions, the groups said they will begin lobbying municipal legislatures to approve resolutions in support of salary increases and a dignified retirement for teachers.