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School scared

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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DON’T?APPROACH?Lester Vaughan in the same way you approached Louis Lynch!
That was the appeal made to the Ministry of Education recently by the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), as it sought to have urgent engineering studies undertaken at the Lester Vaughan Secondary School amidst fears by teachers that a section of the school appeared to be “shaking”.
So far, the Ministry has had an environmental study done by the Environmental Protection Department which found fragments of fibreglass in some of the classrooms after the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas, which collapsed a roof.
Industrial cleaning solved that problem.
Engineering studies were also conducted but the Ministry is awaiting that report.
Anxious teachers are also awaiting those findings since they were informed that a preliminary investigation found no structural problems.
A teacher, who asked for anonymity, told the SUNDAY?SUN?the majority of the teaching staff were still concerned about the “shaking” of the building which had them and some students feeling “dizzy” and nauseous.
Their fears were heightened, apparently, when two 800-gallon water tanks fell from the roof during the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas.
And the teacher said their fears had not been allayed during a meeting at the school two weeks ago by officials from the Ministry and a member of the engineering firm carrying out the structural investigations.
“They brought a psychologist to speak to us, and teachers feel as if the Ministry was telling them that what they are experiencing was all in their heads.
We were asking a lot of questions and we were not convinced, by the answers which we were getting, that anyone had a clue,” said the upset teacher.
A key question related to reports that there were caves under the school.
“When this question was asked, all we were told was that they were not sure if there were caves under the school but that there are ‘openings’. We want to know what they mean by ‘openings’.
“They also told us that they had seen some cracks which were not [consistent] with settling cracks but that they had used a level and the school was still level. That has raised red flags with us.”
President of the Barbados Union of teachers (BUT), Karen Best, told the SUNDAY?SUN: “We had discussions about the school with the Ministry, and we told the Ministry not to approach Lester Vaughan in the same way they approached Louis Lynch. The Ministry has given us the assurance that other tests will be carried out and we are awaiting the reports from those tests.”
Tests by best experts
The Sunday Sun also spoke with Richard Harrison, of the Education Planning Unit, and he confirmed that additional tests had been carried out on the school “by the best experts around who understand how to analyse sub-surface strata”.
He said the issue was a “very sensitive” one and the Ministry was awaiting two reports.
“Until we have completed our investigation, we can’t make any conclusive statements,” he added.
The Lester Vaughan School at Cane Garden, St Thomas, was built in 1998 and is the island’s newest secondary school.
The Louis Lynch Secondary School was finally closed six years ago after several years of environmental concerns expressed by the teaching staff. Environmental tests subsequently proved there were traces of PERC, also known as Tetrachloroethylene, a liquid widely used by laundries, which can affect the central nervous system.