INTERRUPTIONS of classes at the island’s schools continued this week with the Entrepot Secondary School. In a notice circulated by the Ministry of Education on Monday October 21st, parents were informed that students of the Entrepot Secondary School would be dismissed earlier from school that day because of inadequate supervision at the school.
A week ago classes at the Gordon and Walcott Memorial Methodist School were suspended from the morning of Tuesday October 15th until Monday October 21st. The near week-long disruption was due to teachers “walking off the job” and calling-in sick the following day. The interruption was discovered later on to have been prompted by conditions of mould at the school.
The situation for inadequate supervision at the Entrepot Secondary School is akin to that of the Gordon and Walcott Memorial Methodist School less than a week ago. According to Fiona Phillip-Mayer, Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, the inadequate supervision at the Entrepot Secondary School was due to the fact that most of the school’s teachers reported that they were unwell. She also indicated that mould had been detected at the Entrepot Secondary School and that significant work had been done over the course of last weekend to address the situation. She said that assessments had been ongoing ever since the air quality reports of the school had been received less than two weeks ago.
She stated that from the evening of Friday October 18th, throughout the weekend, the Principal of the Entrepot Secondary School, the Head of the Ministry’s Safety Unit and contractors were engaged in addressing the situation at the school. According to the Chief Education Officer, mould remediation and deep cleaning had been done over the weekend in all the rooms at the school which had been identified with mould. She noted, “We have since then found out that there may be other rooms that are impacted and so we are, in a very similar fashion, moving to ensure that every single room at the Entrepot School is not only tested, but that any deep cleaning that has to happen; any other mould remediation will be taken care of within the next couple days.” She announced that approximately $50,000 was spent on the work which was done at the school over the weekend.
She noted, “There needs to be some level of communication as to what we have done, and we will ensure that through the principal of the school, that the staff are very much aware as to what has happened on the weekend as we move forward in the best interest of them as well as the entire school community.” She further stated, “When we know of the situations, we assess, we ensure that quality assurance comes into it… we take it at heart. Our business is education; our business is to ensure that all stakeholders work in a safe environment.”
In the case of the Gordon and Walcott Memorial Methodist School, the Chief Education Officer said that the Ministry had acted urgently in addressing the mould which was identified at the school, notwithstanding the fact that students lost almost four days of school during that period. She emphasised that the Caribbean is susceptible to conditions of mould and stated, “It is important that teachers likewise, appreciate the steps that we have to take, and that we are not sleeping on us… but that we are looking with best interest in terms of problem solving.” She stressed that she would do all in her power to mobilize the funds that are necessary to ensure that the entire school community exists in a safe and happy environment. Classes at the Entrepot secondary School will resume today, October 22nd.