The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is concerned about ongoing construction in close proximity to the Milton Lynch Primary School and the Christ Church Girls’ School, complaining that staff and students at these two institutions are being impacted by noise and dust.
BUT president Sean Spencer told Barbados TODAY that works have been ongoing for several weeks and the neighbouring schools were given no notification prior to start.
“The teachers at the girls’ school were the ones who were really bearing the brunt of the issues because the boys’ school has been fortunate in that the wind was taking the dust away from the school. Up to yesterday when I visited the school, the work was still ongoing and no one was told that this work was going to take place,” said Spencer.
This morning excavation was being carried out around an open field close to the school. Workmen explained it was a project designed to alleviate the flooding in the Wotton community by providing additional drainage. It was unclear which Government ministry was responsible for the ongoing works. Barbados TODAY also made several attempts to reach Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, but was unsuccessful.
Spencer lamented that apart from the dust generated, the construction itself potentially posed a danger to children playing in the area.
“The work is taking place where the children play games and there was one case where the truck was reversing and if not for the other boy shouting, there may have been an unfortunate outcome. Neither principal was informed about what was happening and as a result they were blindsided with no chance to make any alternative preparations. The appropriate thing would have been to have a discussion with the schools beforehand, so whatever happens now is happenstance,” he said.
The BUT president revealed that a number of students and staff have complained of respiratory problems. He pointed out that this has been compounded by the flu-like illness which has impacted several primary and secondary schools on the island.
“I would have been there last week, and I saw it for myself. The girls were having their exhibit investiture and the noise was disturbing the proceedings and the principal tried to make it work despite the noise level. I am not sure that this is the best approach because persons at that school plant have been falling ill and I am referring to both students and staff,” Spencer stressed, noting that his union will continue to monitor the situation.
He added, “These respiratory illnesses are in conjunction with the flu virus that is very much prevalent in schools across the island. So, you have a dual threat now that is compromising persons’ respiratory systems even further. There is dust on one hand and the flu-like virus on the other.”