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Let students wear whatever long pants they have – Bishop

Let students wear whatever long pants they have – Bishop
Bishop Sonny Williams

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A Pentecostal Bishop wants principals and other school managers to understand the reason the ministries of health and education have stipulated that students be allowed to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts to school.  

“The response of the ministries is a response to an emergency,” Sonny Williams, Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) told SEARCHLIGHT via telephone on Wednesday.  

Williams, who is also pastor at the Glad Tidings Tabernacle was responding to the complaints by some principals that students have been wearing long pants of the wrong texture and colour.

Last month, in response to the dengue fever outbreak here, that has so far claimed six lives and affected thousands, of which over 650 cases have been laboratory confirmed, the ministry of education heeded the advice of the ministry of health and began allowing students to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to classes.  

“The response of the ministry of education is in my view a response to the dengue fever outbreak.  

“Schools stressing what kind of colour pants and the type of pants children must wear in my view is a bit unnecessary because a long pants is to protect the children from mosquito bites,” Bishop Williams said. 

He noted that persons who have issues with the type of clothing being worn must take into consideration that at this time, parents have already bought uniforms and some parents and guardians may not have the prescribed colour and cannot afford new clothing.   

“So my view is calling on principals to go back to the purpose to which the long pants were approved by the ministry of education and stay with that.  

“Demanding a certain type of pants colour is not necessary and could also put pressure on parents who cannot afford,” the Bishop stressed while adding, “my view is wear the long pants that you have.”  

He said he is not speaking as a PAWI Bishop but as someone who has grandchildren attending school. Bishop Williams has responsibility for all PAWI churches in the Caribbean. 

He said he will not mention the offending schools as he does not want to stir up controversy so he prefers to send a general message. 

“I want to represent parents and to say to school leaders that perhaps we need to stick with the instructions or directive given to them by the ministry of education to allow a long pants to protect the children from the mosquito. 

“I am saying to them that emphasizing a colour and texture at this time is not making much sense,” Bishops Williams said.  

Last week, during a virtual meeting of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of the Girls’ High School (GHS), headmistress Michelle Beache told parents that several students had been wearing the wrong type of denim pants (jeans).  

She spoke about distressed jeans, some of which have holes in them, and noted that non adherence to the school’s jeans protocol would see management asking all students to wear their uniforms.  

On Wednesday, a high ranking official at the ministry of education said while wearing long clothing with holes does not make sense, as the purpose is to stop mosquito bites, no principal has the power to force students back into uniform.  

“The ministry of education received a communication from the ministry of health in relation to the dengue and asked students to wear long pants. 

“The decision is not a principals’ decision. It was a decision that was made by the minister of education based on a recommendation from the chief medical officer Dr Simone Keizer-Beache,” said the educator.  

He stressed that no principal has the authority to stop the wearing of long sleeved shirts or long pants and also noted that there was no specified colour.   

“I am not saying that the students should dress anyhow. Once it is not an outrageous colour. However, the decision is not to place an unnecessary burden on parents but we did not specify the colour and it is not going to be a permanent measure, once the outbreak is under control things would go back to normal,” the official said.  

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