Saturday, February 17, 2018

Pupils, teachers end up in hospital

After 3 weeks Princes Town school given the all-clear...

SEVERAL pupils and teachers who were given the all-clear to return to the troubled Princes Town East Secondary School yesterday ended up being taken to the district hospital for treatment.

Four teachers and four pupils complained of itching, irritation in the eyes, swelling of the skin and rashes, the Express was told.

Persons with respiratory problems also complained of having difficulty breathing.

The pupils were taken to the Princes Town District Health Facility, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Carlon Mohammed, said.

Last week, more than 30 parents and pupils placarded outside the school’s compound at St Julien Village, Matilda complaining that the school has been closed for three weeks because of the suspected presence of mould in the air conditioning vents.

Mohammed said the Ministry of Education’s Chief Education Officer told staff last Friday that the school was clean and safe for classes to resume yesterday.

The Education Ministry issued a press statement on Saturday advising of the reopening of the school: “Malfunctioning air-conditioning units are being repaired and these works will be completed over this weekend. Additionally, all classrooms are being cleaned and sanitised.”

However, Mohammed said pupils and staff arrived at the school where classes begin at 8 a.m. but two hours later, began complaining.

Teachers refused to work under the conditions and classes ended prematurely at around lunch time, he said.

More than 400 pupils were affected by the issue, Mohammed said, particularly those writing examinations.

He said: “The students are losing valuable teaching time. The Ministry of Education has not done any air quality testing and we have not gotten a venue to use. They are not listening to us regarding that.”

Last week, the PTA held a meeting with other stakeholders to discuss using a convention centre in St Croix for classes until the problem was solved, he said.

An official at the Ministry said reports were received concerning the health of eight persons. The official said he was not sure if the teachers sought medical assistance privately but there was no information confirming if the teachers were treated at a public health facility.

The official said the pupils were treated, sent home and were well.

The official also said: “The air conditioning unit was addressed, the school was sanitised and cleaned as requested over the weekend.The chief education officer visited the school on Friday.”

The public health department of the Princes Town Regional Corporation visited the school yesterday and is expected to submit a report to the Ministry today. Officials of the Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL) also visited the school.