No school at Society
SCORES OF CHILDREN attending Society Primary School in St John were left without any formal classes yesterday after turning up to find the institution unfit for teaching.
Just after 9 a.m., howls of protest erupted from parents as teachers kept vigil over the children, who had turned up in their brand new uniforms and armed with school books expecting to have a full day of tuition. Instead, they were told to sit outside the building on chairs and benches.
After a three-hour wait, students and their parents were told to return home around midday by officials from the Ministry of Education, who turned up to tour the school just after 11 a.m.
Society Primary has a roll of 12 teachers and 90 students.
The ministry officials included Deputy Chief Education Officer (Schools) Karen Best, Parliamentary Secretary Harry Husbands and Senior Education Officer Joy Adamson.
Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) president Pedro Shepherd and Member of Parliament for St John, Mara Thompson, also showed up.
After a short meeting involving the union, the school’s shop steward Chenoe Holder and incoming principal Shirley Thomas, the ministry closed the school for the rest of the day in order to facilitate an industrial cleaning, with the intention that it would reopen today.
Meanwhile, Shepherd, who had said in last week’s SATURDAY SUN that the school looked set to be working from a new location because it was deemed unfit for teaching and learning, said he received a call yesterday morning from the shop steward who said that there were still concerns at the school.
The union chief said he was satisfied that the ministry made an attempt to correct the issues at the school – which included moisture as a result of water seepage, fungus growing on walls and other growth – and he was aware it would take some time for all of them to be corrected.
“As we moved through the upstairs section where the mushrooms were growing, I noticed the mushrooms were removed . . . . If you take a look at the buildings, you would notice that the termite trails are no longer very visible, so some covering has been done.
“I noticed the fungus and mould still appear to be growing on the walls, but in the meeting with the ministry I was told that they [had] treated those areas with some transparent solution,” Shepherd said.
Parents were upset and voiced their concerns about the condition of the school, which most of them described as a health hazard.
“You know what it is a school shut down for ten weeks and then open not cleaned and my child and other children got to sit down in there? These children are three and four years old,” said one parent.
“The dust in the roof dropping down on children that got asthma, allergies and all sorts of things . . . . Not my child, I carrying home my child,” said another angry parent.