Four primary schools and a preschool will see delays in starting the new academic year next week.
But the primary school teachers’ union has raised concerns about the apparent failure of the vacation-period spruce-up programme to ready all schools for Monday’s start of the Michaelmas Term.
Bayley’s Primary and the St Luke’s Brighton Primary will start on Wednesday, according to a a statement by acting education minister Senator Lucille Moe.
Eagle Hall Primary, St Margaret’s Primary and Thelma Berry Nursery School will start the school year the following Monday, September 17, she said.
“The delay at these schools is due to the summer repair programme, she said in a statement.
President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Sean Spencer, said he was also concerned about delays at the schools given the level of preparatory work yet to be down.
“We are hoping that all schools would do what is necessary to ensure that all schools are in a state of readiness so that we could have instruction begin on Monday,” said Spencer.
The comments followed a tour of a number of schools by a BUT committee.
But despite the chaotic scenes of a major construction site at the Eagle Hall Primary School just two days before the new school term begins, the contractor carrying out upgrades has given the assurance that work would be completed by Monday.
While the job, which commenced late July had suffered some setbacks leaving workers scrambling at the last minute, contractor Michael Harris said, he is confident that his team can complete the task over the weekend.
“Rest assured this school is going to be ready for Monday. I only had the contract to do one block and all the windows that I was contracted to install are on the job and everything will be ready for Sunday and school will be opened,” said Harris, who revealed that he has undertaken the additional task of painting eight classrooms.
“The (Parent-Teachers’ Association) was supposed to organize to have the classrooms painted but that did not materialize. They were also supposed to raise funds to paint so that the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) could paint the outside of the school free of cost but that also did not materialize.
“So the windows would be in, some of the classrooms would be painted and the building will be power washed. The outside will not be painted but that is not the fault of the contractor and that should not affect the opening of school,” Harris explained.
The contractor also revealed that a local church group chipped in last week with paint supplies and labour in attempt to speed up work on the school plant, which has not received any major upgrades for the last 15 years.
But several persons from the community, including two former workers on the project, were not so hopeful. Some parents told Barbados TODAY that the school’s orientation was cancelled last Friday was cancelled and based on what they were seeing today, they were concerned that it would take a miracle for school to open on Monday.
“It is going to take all of Santa’s elves to get that school finished in time for Monday. We showed up for orientation last Friday and the school was closed but we got a letter this week from the Ministry [of Education] that school will be open on Monday. Look out there! Is no way that amount of work could be done by over the weekend,” said one concerned mother, who also complained that dust from work has been affecting her all summer.
Two former workers painted a graphic picture of confusion on the job site, which has resulted in several departures. The two men, who did not want to be identified, told Barbados TODAY that it was the chaotic working condition, which has now resulted in workmen having to scramble at the last minute.
“That jobsite is bare madness. The amount of persons that leave that work or get fired is crazy and that is reason that the school not finished because all of the men that can do the work gone,” said one of the former workers.
School principal Orlando Jones would not comment on whether he was satisfied with the progress of the works.