Students and teachers at the Seventh-Day Adventist Primary School are once again experiencing health complications, as a result of a nearby silk cotton tree.
Several students are experiencing respiratory issues and infections and are away from school. A frustrated Prinicpal Angela Bushell-Skeete asked “A tree is more important than children’s health?”
In 2016, it was reported by the media that members of the school’s population were experiencing itchy eyes, sneezing, and wheezing amongst other issues, when the silk cotton fibres floated onto the school property.
At that time, the school was forced to close its doors to get some relief. Principal Bushell-Skeete pointed out that representatives of relevant Government agencies said the tree could not be cut down because it was considered to be one of national significance.
With the problem once again a major concern for the school’s management and parents, and the principal told Barbados TODAY that the Town and Country Planning Department said officials would be sent on Tuesday and Wednesday to trim the tree which is located upwind of the school compound.
However, Bushell-Skeete said though the Dalkeith, St Michael school remained closed for those two days, the trimming did not take place, causing teachers and students to lose teaching time.
“Parents are disturbed. It is bothering the children. Some children are complaining about itching. There are some children that are off because of a lung infection; the cotton has gotten into their lungs as they inhale. Those who have allergies and asthma, it is bothering them,” she complained.
“We spoke to the gentleman who owns the property, and we wrote him a letter. He responded and said that there isn’t anything that he can do at present because it is a tree that the Government has to trim or to cut.
“He told us to contact Town and Country Planning and we did that. We contacted them and they said that the truck that they would use to trim or to cut the tree is not working. This week, we didn’t have school on Tuesday or Wednesday because they said that they are going to come and cut the tree. So we closed school because they can’t cut the tree when school is in session. We thought it was going to be cut on Wednesday.
“We came back on Thursday and it hasn’t been cut. It is Friday and we are still in the same position. I need someone to please come, cut the tree or trim it so that the children and the staff can be comfortable.”
The principal is appealing to the relevant authorities to put immediate measures in place to have the tree dealt with because it is a nuisance that was disturbing the safety and health of the children.
“It comes every other year. When outside is dry and when it’s windy, the pods burst. So this is what happens when they burst. Normally during the year it’s fine, it is only around this time, between the months of March and April that we have this. Before we had the problem and they came and they trimmed the tree. Now, it is taking a much longer time,” she said.