The Vauxhall Primary School, located at Vauxhall, Christ Church, will close for the rest of the week to allow for renovations to be carried out to address a number of environmental issues there.
Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT), Santia Bradshaw, toured the school today with officials from the Education Technical Management Unit, principal Patricia Springer and President of the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA), Adrian Husbands, to assess the extent of the problems at the school.
She said the METVT had already started to tackle some of the matters raised by staff and the PTA, particularly issues with plumbing. Today, the Ministry started to address the problem of the school’s garbage receptacle, which Ms. Bradshaw explained had been a major source of contention, as it needed to be contained and covered to prevent it from attracting rodents.
“We started the process when we were alerted in December (last year), having the ministry’s personnel along with environmental health [officers] visit the school with a view of identifying areas of priority, so that we would be able to acquire the necessary finances to start the work that needed to be carried out.
“The Ministry of Education would have been aware of some issues at the school. These issues are not new, but they are of deep concern to several of the parents, students and indeed to the Ministry,” Ms. Bradshaw stated.
She said the school would be included in this year’s Domestic Summer Programme, but in the short-term the Ministry would be addressing some of the “low hanging fruit” with more immediacy.
Other areas which will be targeted are the fencing, which has been breached and is in need of repairs/replacement; the perspex, which will be replaced possibly by wood to avoid it being broken repeatedly; and mould in some of the rooms, which will be addressed by sealing off the eaves of the building. There are also plans to remove accumulated garbage from under the school’s pre-fab buildings, which will then be sealed off to prevent them from becoming breeding grounds for rats.
“One of the major issues for me has been the bathroom facilities. We wanted to do them in the Domestic Summer Programme, but the state of the bathrooms given the roll – it is not a large roll, it’s over 300 students … there is only one main bathroom for girls and boys and I feel very strongly that we need to address this urgently. The work will normally take about two weeks and we are in discussions with the contractors to see how we can bring that time down to a week or so.
“With that in mind and that being the major priority, we are seeking to close school tomorrow and Friday, which would allow us at least four days going into the weekend with a view to being able to bring in all of the teams from tomorrow to start to address a number of the concerns,” Ms. Bradshaw disclosed.
The Education Minister thanked the PTA president for bringing the issues affecting staff and students to the fore. She said members of the PTA also offered their skills to help improve the school plant.
“It is not that the Ministry can do all of the work, but we are appealing to parents as well to take responsibility for the schools that your children are in, and work with us to allay some of the fears in terms of environmental issues at schools,” the Minister emphasized.
She added that the Ministry would give an update over the weekend as to whether a decision would be made to relocate students and staff.