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Asbestos worry


ANESTA HENRY

Asbestos worry

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TEACHING AT GARRISON Secondary school was on hold yesterday as teachers pressed to have the school closed until an asbestos roof is removed from a nearby derelict building.
The large building, reportedly owned by the Ministry of Housing, Lands, Urban and Rural Development, is near the school’s southern gate.
It was damaged by Tropical Storm Tomas last October, and teachers are now calling it a health hazard to students and staff of the school.
Teachers and education officials put heads together yesterday to come up with solutions.
Principal Matthew Farley told the DAILY NATION that letters regarding the issue were sent by the school to the relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and the Ministry of Housing, Lands, Urban and Rural Development.
Speaking on behalf of staff members, teacher Denise Charles said her coworkers were aware of the letters but were worried that “still no action has been taken”.
They wanted the school closed until the asbestos roof was removed and the environment made safe, she said.
She said teachers were told the roof would have been removed during the last Christmass recess.
“That time came and nothing has happened,” she reported. “We are into the second term and the term is three weeks away from finishing, and yet nothing has been done.
“As a staff, we decided that we have had enough and decided to meet and discuss the issue to see where we can go from here as a group.
“We wanted to be united because we feel nothing is being done about the situation and all the while we are being exposed to the problem [and] the children are being exposed to it.”
After a meeting at the school with stakeholders yesterday, Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) vice-president Pedro Shepherd said Minister of Education Ronald Jones was contacted and the decision was made not to close the school “as suggested by members of staff”.  
While the Ministry of Housing promised to remove the roof by the end of this week, the BUT advised teachers to “allow the procedure to follow its course”.

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