The latest episode of unpleasant odour that forced the Ministry of Education to close the Combermere School indefinitely has been the result of sabotage, Principal Vere Parris is reported to have said.
Parris Monday told a staff meeting at Erdiston College someone had tampered with effluent pipes resulting in the release of septic gas, a source at today’s meeting told Barbados TODAY.
The Ministry of Education closed the school last Tuesday after continued complaints of a foul odour, which caused teachers and students to experience headaches, rashes and hoarseness.
In a statement issued Su
nday, the ministry said it had identified a special task force “to monitor and oversee the work over the next week” and it would continue to monitor the environment at the Waterford, St Michael learning institution.
It added that the school would remain closed until the ministry was “satisfied that the investigative and remedial work” had been completed.
While staff members were said to have been somewhat unsettled by the theory of sabotage, many in attendance at today’s gathering were relieved that the cause of the recurring problem had been identified, the source said.
Meanwhile, outspoken teacher Reverend Charles Morris told Barbados TODAY he did not attend Monday’s meeting, but he had been made aware of the principal’s remarks.
Morris, who in the past clashed with Parris over the issue, said he would reserve comment until after he spoke with the principal.
Morris had told Barbados TODAY last week that he was unsure about the future of the school, as many staff members had indicated an unwillingness to return to the compound.
“This thing is now affecting people mentally. I don’t know why but I was actually scared. Combermere is not a safe place for us, it is not a safe place for the administration of education. I find it hard to see young children collapsing. It is not an easy scene at all . . . . I don’t know what other teachers are doing but I don’t think I could work there any more,” the Anglican cleric stressed at the time.
Combermere School has experienced a series of environmental problems dating back to early last year, resulting in its closure the relocation of students on two occasions.
Last year, Parris had blamed the foul odour on nearby trees, a theory later dismissed by anthropologist and former head of the Barbados National Trust Dr Lennox Honychurch.