Education authorities say they are still trying to get to the bottom of a recent outbreak of sore throats, itchy skin and rash at the Lawrence T Gay Memorial School, which forced the closure of that learning institution last week.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones has given the assurance that his ministry was working around-the-clock with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Ministry of Health to try to identify the source of the problem and have it rectified.
And while he could not say how long it was likely to take or how much it would cost, Jones said with the Easter holidays only about four weeks away, the school would remain closed for the rest of the term.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the launch of a healthy lifestyle initiative at the St Michael School yesterday morning, Jones said while some issues identified by the Ministry of Health were rectified late last year there was still “a persistence of something”.
“We do not know what it is or what they are, but we always err on the side of caution,” said Jones, noting that children and teachers were complaining of itchy skin and the smell of oil in the atmosphere.
“So I am saying, and we have been saying, if there is nothing in the narrowness of the school environment, we have to look external to the school environment. So the various persons who have been brought on board will look within the internal environment and also in the external environment to see what could be the cause of that,” he explained.
In the meantime, Jones responded to reports of rat infestation at the Ellerton Primary School in St George, saying it was “not a major issue”, even though he said health officials would ensure that the nearby gullies were baited.
In addition, Jones said his ministry had been changing some of the classroom breeze blocks into solid walls with windows, as well as putting up fine mesh to keep the rodents out.
Noting that last term the St George institution was affected by the disposal of a dead animal upwind of the school, Jones said he was concerned that some residents were not disposing of their waste properly.
However, he encouraged students to keep the school compound clean and to properly discard of food items.