A number of parents of students attending Lawrence T Gay Memorial School were up in arms yesterday at the absence of health officials at a meeting on the status of classes following the onset of an environmental problem which has forced the temporary closure of the school.
The Ministry of Education invited the parents to the meeting at Breath of Life Seventh Day Adventist Church to advise them about the relocation of classes.
However, the parents were also interested in the investigation into the cause of the problem and whether it would be resolved satisfactorily in time for the children’s return next term.
And they complained that they felt “disrespected” that representatives from the Environmental Protection Department were not present
to address their concerns.
The school has been closed for the second time in four months because of environmental issues, which has left teachers and students complaining of sore throats, itchy skin and rash.
Michelle Worrell, the mother of a child in reception was especially vocal.
“They send six officers from the Ministry of Education that do not have an idea about what is going on and that is what I felt violated by.
“I was looking for a nurse or a doctor that I could have asked questions. I haven’t seen at least three teachers who have been affected present,” Worrell said.
Meanwhile, Marsha Hinds-Layne, the parent of a Class Four student told Barbados TODAY she felt the matter was being treated as a joke. She was worried that the problem would accompany the students to the temporary venues.
“Let us say it is something fungi related or mould related; even if you say you sanitize the desk, what about the pages of those books that would be infested with whatever? It feels like a joke thing,” Hinds-Layne complained.
She said her daughter had had symptoms since last term and continued to experience difficulty, while ten other children in the class had complained about the same ailment.
“We are hearing our children coming home and saying ‘oh my throat sore’ or ‘oh my knees hurting’ and because the children are at puberty
you are putting it down to that. I think that our children should be tested together to find out what is the affect to their overall health together,” the mother urged.
Principal Beverley Parris thanked the parents for their cooperation over the past two weeks and assured them that the Ministry of Education would do everything possible to resolve
the matter. Parris said she too had begun to lose her voice as a result of the problem.
Acting Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson, who chaired the meeting, announced that the students would be temporarily relocated to three different sites until end of term on March 23.
She said starting tomorrow the Class Four students would be housed in the basement at Breath of Life Church and Class Three students would join them the following day.
From next Monday, Class One and Class Two students are expected to report to the Sarah Ann Gill Methodist Church in Fairfield, Black Rock. Transportation is being provided from the school for students going to that location.
The ministry is seeking to secure an undisclosed location to house students from Reception, Infants A and Infants B, she revealed.
The education officer also assured the parents that the school meals department had been contacted about the relocations.