Parents of Sharon Primary School students have been in the dark for far too long about what they claim is an unexplained shutdown at the institution in the second week of the new school year as a result of environmental issues.
And they are accusing officials in two Government ministries of making light of their children’s health and education.
Over two dozen of them assembled at the Jackson Church of God where a meeting with school and Ministry of Education officials was scheduled to be held.
When no one showed up, upset parents assembled outside of the church calling for an end to the “madness”. So incensed were they at the lack of engagement from authorities, they have launched a petition demanding answers, which they intend to deliver to the Ministry of Education next week.
“We are extremely concerned because our children have now missed a full week of school and we don’t have any information about what steps are being taken to get the kids back in school,” explained Felicia Cox, an outspoken mother.
“Honestly, by now we expected the ministry to have been back in touch with us. We were asked to come here to a meeting which we then heard was cancelled. But for us a week out of school is too long, especially for class 4 students. We feel like this can’t be good enough, especially when environmental issues are involved.”
Parents told Barbados TODAY their children had been reporting strange smelling chemicals for sometime while at school.
Students and teachers have been falling ill since the last school term with fevers, itchiness, dizziness, vomiting and cramps. The situation was determined to be totally unfavourable after a teacher collapsed last Friday.
“We were not officially told what the problem is as yet so we can safeguard our children and we are very upset. We have here a petition that we intend to take to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health to let them know although this is a little country school, we parents are not passive and we are not going to take this lying down,” Cox added.
Efforts to reach Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw and Minister of Health and Wellness, Jeffrey Bostic were unsuccessful late Friday evening and it is still unclear who called Friday’s meeting.
Meanwhile, parents were making plans to demonstrate at Government’s Constitution River education complex next week.
“This is a week and there has been no representation from the Ministry of Education as yet, no representation from the school…we don’t know why the meeting was called or why it was called off. We also do not know who is investigating the issues at the school right now. We are in limbo because we don’t know what to do on Monday,” complained Jared Williams, another concerned teacher.
Barbados TODAY understands the chemicals have been coming from a nearby business, whose management promised to put adequate environmental protections in place.
President of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Sean Spencer indicated earlier this week his union’s investigations revealed that at least one of the chemicals is fiber glass.
However Williams said: “We don’t know what investigation was done so we cannot say it was a business because we don’t know and even if something has not been done, the parents have not been made aware so we need to know, because we are stakeholders in the education of our children.”