The St Stephen’s Nursery School will remain closed for the remainder of the week after the Ministry of Education’s plan to temporarily relocate students to the nearby Anglican Church failed.
Issues including poor lighting and inadequate lunch arrangements at the church were among the challenges identified by parents and by teachers who tried to facilitate classes there.
Arrangements are to be made for students to engage in classwork online and materials will be distributed to parents to keep the children engaged.
On Tuesday following meetings at the St Stephen’s Anglican Church with executive members of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), teachers, president of the Association of Public Primary School Principals Ivan Clarke, staff and parents, Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw said the ministry did not have adequate time to ensure the church was a conducive learning environment.
Teachers and parents also complained of the fact students had to walk through the church’s graveyard to access the bathrooms, inadequate ventilation and difficulty conducting five classes in a confined area. The situation was further aggravated when workers came to dig a grave in the cemetery using a drilling machine. They were later instructed by the funeral director to complete the job when classes were dismissed.
There are 145 students enrolled at the school in four nursery and five reception classes. Only the reception classes could be accommodated at the church.
Meanwhile, due to the environmental issues that caused the school to officially close twice last week and on Monday, Archer-Bradshaw said a plan of action “was quickly put in place so that children would not lose additional teaching time” and the ministry had instructed the principal to contact the priest to use the church.
“On Monday we were told that the situation had not been rectified as had been expected on Friday so we decided to take quick action with regard to getting the children in the space . . . Sometimes things don’t always work out,” said Archer-Bradshaw.
“If we had three or four days to come and inspect and so on, I could understand that, but we decided that we would come and we would try with the space and I want to thank the teachers and principal for actually coming and trying,” she added.
Last week, the BUT reported that the Ministry of Education was working with environmental health officers to address the problem. A neighbour who raised chickens had promised to have the pens cleaned by last Friday. The environmental problem was first raised last Monday when the school closed early and two days later, parents were given the option to collect their children from the school. However, the school remained open.