Blackman & Gollop Primary School on Tuesday ended its role as a coronavirus isolation centre when the Ministry of Health formally returned a sanitised and spruced-up campus to the Ministry of Education
Health authorities carried out an “extensive environmental sanitisation process” to re-commission the Staple Grove, Church as a primary school in time for the September start of the school year, according to a Government statement.
Teachers union and PTA representatives joined a chorus of approval for the refurbishment that including re-painted classrooms and bathrooms, improved lighting fixtures, water tanks and upgraded Wi-Fi.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s infection control chief Corey Forde who doubles as isolation facilities manager, led Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw, civil servants and association representatives on a tour of the campus.
Dr Forde said: “I just want to commend the Ministry of Education for allowing us to use this facility for this purpose. And for the environmental people who came in and cleaned the compound for a whole week – plus.
And then the environmental health team from the Ministry of Health who came in and made sure everything was in order. We hope and pray that we won’t have to use any more schools for this purpose again.”
Bradshaw, in turn said she was impressed with the work that went into re-commissioning the school, the country’s youngest primary school complex.
She also referred to a “sense of nervousness” when it was first announced that the school was to be used as an isolation centre.
Bradshaw recalled: “People were uncertain. We are still operating in an uncertain environment, but I think we didn’t know as much then as we know now.
“From what I see here, I feel very proud to be a Barbadian. It shows what we can do when things are urgent and I would like that that work ethic be something that we see throughout everything that we do.
“The way that you have been able to transform the school … you’ve been able to demonstrate that just with the right amount of paint and the correct aesthetics, we can get a school back into operation fairly quickly. And that is really to the credit of the Ministry of Health.
“At the end of the day, we want to get the children back into school. We know it is not going to be a normal environment when September comes, but we have to still make sure that the environment is safe. So, whether it is full capacity, or 50 per cent capacity…, I feel comfortable.”
Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Rudy Lovell declared that he feels safe sending his daughter back to the school, after touring the facility and hearing about the health ministry’s work.
The BUT’s acting president Richmark Cave said he was confident that “the teachers when they return to this environment will be returning to an improved environment, where teaching and learning can recommence”.
President of the PTA Trisha Augustine said she was impressed with the cleansing and improvements at the school plant, and would pass on her impressions to the association.