The territory, already dealing with a teacher shortage, may lose a number of mostly Filipino teachers here on J1 visas, due to a delay in applying for visa extensions.
Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) urged local officials to act quickly to prevent the loss of teachers.
“Recently my office was contacted by concerned teachers who’s J1 Visas as visiting teachers had not been extended. These teachers were recruited by the Virgin Islands Department of Education to work and educate the children of the Virgin Islands, in areas of Math, Science, Library Science, Special Education, etc. The teachers in question have been working for several years and were requesting extensions,” Plaskett said.
“With the upcoming school year fast approaching, the Virgin Islands cannot afford to lose any of its teachers. It is incumbent upon all of us to push our children forward – whether that is supporting access to infrastructure materials, funding, or making sure there are enough teachers for the classrooms,” she said
Plaskett said the State Department has always been strict and had clear requirements and deadlines for submission of materials from Visa holders and their sponsors. “We know that these teachers play a vital role in the current educational landscape and we are doing whatever is possible to support them. As these visas are also never guaranteed we are offering our support the Department of Education with additional programs to augment our teaching abilities,” she said.