By Anesta Henry
Parents of some students at the Parkinson Memorial School are concerned that face-to-face classes have resumed despite no clarity yet on why some students and teachers fell ill suddenly last Wednesday.
However, the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) has indicated it is satisfied that the Ministry of Health and Wellness is
working towards finding the source of the problem.
Classes resumed at the Pine, St Michael educational institution on Monday, after being held online last Thursday and Friday while authorities tried to determine what caused students and teachers in one of the blocks to require medical attention.
Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw said staff and students who usually occupy the affected block were relocated to another section of the campus as investigations continued.
However, speaking on condition of anonymity, some parents told members of the media on Monday morning that they were uncomfortable with their children returning to the environment while the cause of the problem remained unknown.
One said their child who witnessed some of her peers “dropping down last week” was afraid to return to school.
“She was saying that one child had collapsed and she got a seizure and an ambulance had to take her away from the school. My daughter was kind of scared to go to school and she was asking me if I found out what was the problem that had caused the children to get sick. I told her ‘I am not sure what it is, so just wear your mask’,” the concerned parent said.
“But I don’t feel comfortable that the school reopened today and nobody knows what caused the problem. I think that the Ministry of Health should have kept the school closed for a whole week, give the school a proper sanitising, and check the roof for any asbestos because these things do happen not only at schools but also in workplaces.”
Another parent said if she heard any reports about the issue recurring, she would keep her child home until it was rectified.
“If it happens again, for sure I am coming to get her because you don’t know what’s causing the problem, you don’t know how serious it can be or what consequences it can have later on. So, I just would do what has to be done at the time,” she said.
“Of course, she has her schooling to do and today she didn’t even want to come to school but school is scheduled for today…. It was a bit [hard] for her to see so many people dropping down and being ill at the same time. Yes, people get ill, but not at the same time”.
Meanwhile, BUT president Rudy Lovell told Barbados TODAY that while efforts to identify the cause of the problem are ongoing, the union is willing to give the Ministry
of Health the time needed to complete the
He said teachers were always willing to be on the job and would continue to do so once the environment is safe.
“Once they are at work and they are not in any immediate danger, they will be happy to be there. Once there is a sign of danger, then obviously, like most other people who work in environments, they would have to indicate that the environment is not conducive to their health and safety.
“Both teachers and students are very resilient and I can assure you that once there are no environmental concerns, the school will be going on as normal,” Lovell said.
Dr Archer-Bradshaw promised further updates would be provided as soon as investigations are completed.