President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman is expressing concern over the length of time that the Ministry of Education is taking to find alternatives accommodation for the displaced students and teachers of Combermere School.
It has been a week since the Waterford learning institution was closed due to environmental concerns, and the ministry has promised to update parents and guardians on work being conducted to correct the issues plaguing the school.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Redman said even though her members remained in the dark, they were still attempting to cater to the educational welfare of their charges through the use technology.
“I really don’t know. I know that some teachers are keeping in contact with their students through email and that type of thing. I know that because they normally do that during the term as well – they send notes and such stuff and I know that students remain in contact with their teachers, especially the exam students but other than that I can’t tell you what arrangements have been put in place. I suppose people are now seeing the problems we face with the ministry,” Redman said.
The union leader also told Barbados TODAY she was unaware of any findings by the ministry or the school principal Vere Parris on the cause of the environmental issues facing the school.
Parris is reported to have said at a staff meeting Monday that the foul odour was the result of someone tampering with effluent pipes resulting in the release of septic gases.
Redman said she had received reports from members who attended Monday’s meeting at Erdiston College, but had heard nothing from either the ministry or Parris.
“I have not had any report from either the principal or the ministry thus far, so we are still awaiting word on exactly what the problem is. We know there is a problem, the ministry said there is a problem and it is on that basis that we closed the school. They said they would do an extensive investigation and attempt to treat to the problems, but I have not heard anything from them since Tuesday last week.”
The authorities shut down the school last Tuesday at the height of complaints of a foul odour, which caused teachers and students to experience headaches, rashes and hoarseness.
In a statement on Sunday, the ministry said it had identified a special taskforce “to monitor and oversee the work over the next week” and would continue to monitor the environment at the school.
It added that the school would remain closed until it was “satisfied that the investigative and remedial work” had been completed.
In the meantime the ministry has advised parents and guardians of students writing CXC, CSEC, and CAPE examinations in May/June to pay their examination fees at the finance section of the ministry’s Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St Michael.
Barbados TODAY has also learnt that parents and guardians have been summoned by the principal to a meeting on Thursday at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.