Just when they thought it was over, the stench that has plagued Combermere School for well over a year, has flared up again.
However, while some classrooms were evacuated around 10 a.m. as a result, classes were not seriously disrupted as was the case with the previous flare up in November last year when the school was forced to close for five weeks, a source told Barbados TODAY.
“As we speak we had two teachers and students having to leave their classes and they reported to the office because of the bad smell. What is important to note is that it is the students and not the teachers who are reporting it this time. Right now the smell is concentrated in the third form area,” the source revealed, adding, while it “did not result in any serious disruption to the school” there were concerns among staff members that the situation could escalate if it were not dealt with urgently.
President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman exhibited restraint, telling Barbados TODAY while she had been made aware of the situation, the group of environmental experts who had declared it was safe to return to the classroom had said the environmental rehabilitation of the school was an ongoing process.
“I just received the report this morning and I am in the process of informing the Ministry of Education of the situation. Actually it has not gone away because on the day that we did our inspection, the scent was still evident at one part of the school and the expert team was able to smell it themselves. But they have been monitoring and the remedial action is ongoing. However it seems from the end of last week and today that the scent is stronger and more sustained,” Redman said.
She was referring to the examination on January 10 by members of staff, BSTU, parents and representatives from the Ministry of Education of the remedial work conducted by the environmental team comprising former Combermere students.
Following “an extensive and fairly rigorous” examination, the team concluded that inappropriate storage and management of chemicals in the science block was responsible for the noxious odour that had caused discomfort to students and teachers.
The BSTU boss cautioned it was still too early to determine if teachers would contemplate any action, as the ministry had not had a chance to address the latest flare up.
“We can’t go there yet. I am informing the ministry right now and let them know the situation,” she stressed.
Just last week, Minister of Education, Ronald Jones had expressed satisfaction with the resettlement efforts at the school since it re-opened for the start of the new school term, which began on January 11.
However, Jones was cautious not to pronounce the problem solved, insisting his ministry would continue to monitor the situation closely in the coming weeks.