Students who do not have uniforms when the new school term starts on Monday will be allowed to wear other clothing until at least the end of the month.
Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Kay McConney made the announcement on Wednesday, explaining that following complaints about the unavailability of either pre-made uniforms or uniform fabric, uniform requirements would be adjusted for now.
In a statement in which she spoke directly to parents, McConney said: “With sensitivity to your challenges in this circumstance, I wish to give some ease. The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training has decided to relax the regulations to our school uniform policy until September 30th, 2022, after which it will be reviewed.
“This means that if your child is unable to wear the full school uniform, new or re-used, from the first day of school on September 19th, he or she will be allowed to dress in a manner appropriate for school in a plain-coloured t-shirt or a plain-coloured polo shirt and a jeans pants. Note that this relaxation is for a limited time, until uniform fabrics are available.”
McConney said parents had complained they were unable to get the needed amounts of fabrics for some primary and secondary schools, including Parkinson Memorial Secondary School and the Alexandra School.
“Importers of uniform fabric, manufacturers of uniforms, and retailers have stated that there have been delays in the delivery of fabric to the island, which means that manufacturing has slowed down; available stock has been depleted so certain colours and sizes are unavailable; and dressmakers and tailors have been put under greater pressure to sew uniforms for which they cannot get the correct fabric to finish by next Monday,” she added.
The Education Minister pointed to several factors in the supply chain that have contributed to the delay in uniform fabrics reaching Barbados, including the intermittent shutdown of several overseas factories where the fabric is made and the slow consolidation of shipments due to transportation challenges between multiple cities.
She added that shipping connections were held back when a vessel bringing the shipments to Barbados experienced a delay in getting privileges to berth at one of the transit countries in the region where it had to stop before coming here.
“All of this is outside of the control of Barbados, of the Ministry of Education, of the schools, and of our uniform manufacturers, retailers, tailors, and dressmakers,” Minister McConney said.
With the uniform rules relaxed for now, she said the Chief Education Officer would communicate with principals at the respective schools so they can work with students, parents, and guardians “to do what is necessary and reasonable to accommodate the relaxation of the uniform regulations” and to ensure a safe return to full face-to-face classes for all.