THE Palo Seco Secondary School will remain closed tomorrow for the start of the new school term as teachers at the school are fearful for their health and the well-being of over 400 pupils at the institution.
President of the Parents Teachers' Association Raphael Samuel said an airborne fungus which has already caused a teacher to develop an infection has spread to different areas on the compound.
As a result, he said, pupils will not be allowed in the school to begin the 2012 to 2013 academic year tomorrow.
Samuel said staff members have been clamouring for the Ministry of Education's intervention in this and several other issues at the school, but to no avail.
He said after a fire at the school almost a decade ago, the pupils were moved into what they were told was a temporary location.
Samuel said since then, two sites were allocated to build the permanent structure, but nothing further has been heard about construction.
He said flooding had caused the collapse of a portion of the sewer system, and even though a report was forwarded to the Ministry of Education from the Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL), work has not yet begun.
The school also has one entrance and one exit, and the playground is overgrown with grass, Samuel said.
But it is a fungus, Samuel said, that is the most pressing issue.
"A fungus in the art class caused an infection to the art teacher. It covered his body," Samuel said.
He told the Sunday Express that the school supervisor approved that tests be carried out by the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (Cariri), but "the Ministry of Education refused to pay".
Samuel said that last Wednesday when the staff, which consists of about 15 teachers and seven members in the administration department, reported to school, they noticed the fungus had also spread to the staff room.
"As a consequence, they have indicated that they are not about to put their health at risk and will not be reporting for classes. TTUTA (Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association) has also advised that they not be in school on Monday," Samuel said.