A teacher holding class on the road outside the Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary school compound, January 31, 2013.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The Department of Education has taken a decision to close the Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary School following ongoing concerns about the health and safety of teachers and students.
In a statement issued shortly after 9:30 am today, February 5, the department indicated that the school will be closed until further notice.
"Parents and guardians are being asked to pick-up their respective children. The department apologises for any inconvenience caused," the statement pointed out.
There have been growing concerns due to problems posed by rats, particularly rat droppings believed to be in the roof of the school. The issue was discussed during a Parent Teachers' Association (PTA) meeting yesterday, February 4.
Despite assurances from the Education Department that the pest infection issue at school would be addressed, parents are peeved that a decision was made to re-use the roof, which was taken down to deal with the problem.
BVI Platinum News was told that the school was facing the problem of mold and other issues for months, but the situation took a turn for the worse last week, forcing classes to be held outside the school building on Thursday, January 31.
Following an article published by BVI Platinum News on Friday, February 1, the department issued a statement which pointed out that while works were being carried out for the improvement of the telephone system at the school, the ceiling tiles of a section of the building housing the principal's office came down.
According to the department, it was discovered that within the roofing system, a breathing ground was established for unwanted pests, causing an unsanitary environment in sections of the school.
"Respective Government agencies were called in to assess the situation and its risks to students and staff. As of this morning [February 1], the areas that are compromised, two classrooms and the principal's office have been isolated. Students were moved to new rooms away from the source of the issue," the department pointed out.
The department stated that additionally, they contracted a private contractor to thoroughly clean the entire building over the weekend.
PTA Takes A Stand
President of the PTA, Shevone Findlay said the situation has nothing to do with politics, spirituality or citizenship, but the simple well-being of "our children who are the future leaders of our community".
She expressed concern that students were allowed to attend school today, February 5.
"I felt so ashamed. I am here to give my apology and willing to make a stand to have the Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary School that holds approximately 190 students immediately closed until the school is healthy and comfortable for our children and staff," Findlay pointed out.
She added, "We have expressed our great concern of a roofing that has been removed from the classes while sitting there for a period of years; passed by the Education Department that it is safe after one week of sanitation. The plans are to put back the old ceilings after sitting outside accumulating moisture; to refit back in the same old roof after they are already infested."
She pointed out that it took the rewiring of new telephones to recognize the health hazard of the roof.
"Our principal has expressed her concern to the various departments as well as our teachers, taking various strategies of emergency care, which have been exceptional as far as sitting on the pavement or squeezing 84-86 students in one room for an entire day, while other students had a major fun day on the outside," Findlay stated.
She also pointed out that parents have also expressed their concern of not being immediately notified to collect their children, especially those with current medical conditions.
"I ask of the 5th District, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education, to come together immediately and not to take this condition lightly. A sweep under the rug, have no money story is definitely not the answer. Either find a place to temporarily place our students or close the school immediately. We are the biggest and a very mighty pre-primary school that requires immediate attention and not just for media coverage," Findlay stated.
She said anyone with a voice to stop this matter would be greatly appreciated, even to parents that have no choice or teachers without a voice.
"Those who are hiding because of a job; your salary may not cover an airborne sickness for your child," she stated.
"As your President and my team, we've made certain phone calls and various contacts to reach the media and I am now asking for voices and executioners to step in as we the parents and teachers need the support of its strong community to stand for what is justice, our children's healthcare. No way that this situation is twisted leaves anyone room to say this is safe after one week of cleaning. The picture is not right; let's do this thing," Findlay stated.
Article Published February 1, 2013
Complaints Of Illness Due To Rat Faeces Hit Pre-Primary School; Education Officials Mute
Students and teachers at the Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary School in Road Town were forced to hold classes outside the school's building after they complained about sudden illness.
When BVI Platinum News visited the school yesterday, January 31, teachers were holding their classes outside on the compound. One class was held outside the gate where the students were sitting on the side of the road.
"It is even affecting me. I cannot teach in such a condition; it is not healthy for the children or even the teachers. We have been outside since 1:00 pm," one concerned teacher stated.
At the time of BVI Platinum News' visit, the principal was speaking with officials from the Education Department and the Environmental Health Department. Along with those officials, a representative from Internal Audit was also present as the principal took them through the building.
"We have been complaining about this all week and nothing was done, but now that it reach to this stage where the children had to be put outside, they are now coming to see the issue. This could have been avoided," another teacher stated.
A number of parents who were informed about the incident visited the school to collect their children.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Delroy Taylor, who only learned of the matter when he visited the school, told BVI Platinum News that he is concerned for his daughter's health. He related that the teachers informed him that there is some sort of rat faeces related issue at the school.
"That is what they told me. I don't know what will happen, but I do hope that they fix the problem and I hope it does not affect the children having to attend school. But I am concerned for my daughter's health," he stated.
Another parent said the Education Department could have handled the matter swiftly, but is hopeful that it will be dealt with soon.
"They told us that it was due to the fact that part of the principal's roof fell last week Friday and now there are rat faeces all over the office, which has affected other classrooms...Some of the students were vomiting, itching...It's extremely unhealthy and should have been addressed with urgency," the mother stated.
One parent, who was called by a neighbour who saw the children outside, told BVI Platinum News that he hopes the school is closed until the matter is sorted out as health comes first.
"I am very concerned. Children should not have to learn in such environment and they were placed outside; this is not good."
Efforts to solicit a comment from officials at the Education Department about plans to address the situation and arrangements for school today were unsuccessful.