The Ministry of Education’s handling of the air quality challenges plaguing the Lawrence T Gay Primary School since 2015 has received a failing grade from the parents and guardians of students.
Last night, ministry officials met with parents and teachers to discuss plans for the pupil’s relocation while investigations continue into the latest flare-up, which forced the Spooner’s Hill school’s closure this week.
Class four pupils are to continue classes at the neighbouring Grace Hill Moravian Church.
But, first vice president of the school’s Parent Teachers’ Association, Steffanie Williams, told reporters that parents are frustrated with the recurring problems at the school.
“I think that the meeting was productive to some extent, but the outcome was not as satisfactory for parents. They came here with questions and they expected answers. I don’t believe that they got all of the answers that they were looking for,” said Williams.
Some parents were sceptical about accommodating the class four students at the church, she added, suggesting the location would be too close to the environmental issue affecting the school.
Additionally, parents were anxious for solutions for the rest of the student body, Williams said, claiming that parents were running out of childcare options while at work.
She said: “I will be honest; it is frustrating because my daughter is in class three and I have had her home for the last two weeks and I am treading on slippery ground because I am keeping my child out of school.
“I don’t believe that the environment is conducive, I believe that more should be done, and I am hoping that more will be done.”
But Richmark Cave, a vice-president of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and a senior teacher at the school, told Barbados TODAY that he hopes that the parents will give the interim measures a chance. He said he believed that the ministry was trying its best to address the matter.
Cave said: “We have a block at the school that is not being affected at all and the church is even further. So, my suggestion would be for us to try it.
“I know people don’t like to accept change that easily, but my suggestion is to let the class fours come in because the teachers want to teach, and students want to learn.
“So, let them come in and see how it goes, if they experience similar symptoms then we go to another plant, but we must start somewhere.”
The education ministry on Wednesday announced that the school was closed for the rest of the week to allow authorities to seek to identify the source of wind-borne irritants affecting staff and pupils. The school had closed on Monday as few teachers turned up for work.
The ministry has pledged to investigate possible locations to house the 496 pupils and teachers, starting with the Class 4 students.
It said: “Identifying a location requires space for school furniture, adequate bathrooms, serving area for lunch and security.
“There is also a need to transfer furniture and materials from the school to the new site and securing insurance for the duration of the occupation of the site.”