Institute schools health, safety measures
THE FEAR WHICH hovers over teachers and parents at Grazettes Primary School, given the negative fallout from the fogging exercise now affecting that school, is understandable. Indeed, their reluctance to work in this building is to be expected. There is an unnerving history on which they will all reflect.
The spectre of the now defunct Louis Lynch Secondary School looms large in many minds and will indeed dictate the actions of those who use any school building across Barbados. The level and nature of illness which has afflicted both past students and teachers who attended the former Whitepark, St Michael school has left an uneasiness among many people.
While the two situations differ in that the cause of the problem at Grazettes has been quickly and clearly identified and is being rectified, there is a level of uncertainty which will not simply disappear. This is an issue of confidence.
Little did anyone in Government expect an environmental issue of significant magnitude to reappear so soon among any of this island’s schools. The lack of confidence which would have emanated from the episode with the Louis Lynch saga means that those in the Ministry of Education charged with resolving the Grazettes Primary issue, may find their tasks so much harder. It is all about credibility.
This development calls for consistent discussion with parents and staff. It requires that all the information coming out of the environmental clean-up and any investigation into the safety of the building be also fully shared with the public. This cannot be a time for officials to withhold information in the belief that certain things are not for public consumption. The opposite is very true on this occasion.
This is also a situation which demands that there be no fence sitting. Those with vested interests such as the Barbados Union of Teachers, the Association of Public Primary School Principals and the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations all have an important role in ensuring that their voices are heard publicly on this issue. They must be relentless in pressuring the Ministry of Education and any other agency into doing the right thing. There is a genuine fear among those involved of not wanting to become just another statistic.
The situation at Grazettes Primary requires that the Ministry of Education, working with other Government departments, must institute some new occupational health and safety measures when dealing with school buildings across this island.
From fogging to fighting off mosquitoes to the use of chemicals to treat the buildings and even cleaning of the exteriors must be done within a timeline to allow any residues of the various agents to safely dissipate. There are simply too many health issues which can easily be exacerbated: from asthma to respiratory tract infections.
No one at any school building across Barbados should operate in a putrid environment. This is a matter which requires quick resolution and where the people’s welfare must come first.