MAY PEN, Clarendon — With some teachers wilting under the heat asking for flexibility in the rules that speak to the way they dress, acting principal of Denbigh High School, Jeffery Douglas is hoping the Ministry of Education (MOE) will soon provide guidance.
“I am still awaiting directives from MOE to see what adjustments they’ll be putting in place for staff. They have recently released a dress and grooming policy for students [but] there is nothing for staff. I have had requests from a few staff members asking if we could be lenient in the way they dress because of the [high] temperatures but my response is that I have to be guided by the ministry because I do not want to say we will relax the policy and then it becomes a problem. So, I am still awaiting that from the ministry,” Douglas told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.
Education Minister Fayval Williams recently announced that a draft grooming policy for students would be provided to schools for feedback before implementation. It addresses issues such as hairstyles, length, hair accessories, and colour. The draft policy also speaks to students’ mode of dress. Douglas is now hoping for similar clarification on what teachers can wear so that he can determine how to respond to his staff’s request. He noted that the expectation is that temperatures will be even higher in years to come, and overcrowded classrooms have become unbearable.
“We are aware that the ministry may be having challenges with the heat and so I do expect that they will respond in a favourable way to allow teachers to dress comfortably — because once they are comfortable, productivity will increase,” he said.
The heat is also a concern at May Pen Primary School where the grooming policy for students was on the mind of Board Chairman Fitzbert Mattis. He explained that several classes had been retrofitted in an effort to alleviate the heat.
“We did repairs to some classrooms as there were issues with windows and ventilation, but it’s a work in progress and we are fixing that. Time is very hot and so we are trying to create cooler classrooms while trying to maintain the security of the building. We are also getting additional fans to ensure that the air gets circulated to ensure that students and teachers are comfortable in the classrooms, and where possible we are looking at getting extractor fans,” he said.
Turning his attention to the draft grooming policy he said it “will pose some challenges for us”. However, he stressed the importance of the policy.
“It is very essential that we understand it because it is formulated around proper discipline and decorum, and we want to ensure that we work on that as assiduously as possible with [the least] controversy…,” he said.