Teachers protest outside Uriah McPhee Primary School.
11.50am UPDATE: MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT CLEARS STEPHEN DILLETT AND URIAH MCPHEE
FOR RE-OPENING - The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology wishes to advise teachers, and parents/guardians of students attending the Stephen Dillett Primary and Uriah McPhee Primary Schools that the Ministry of The Environment has assessed the clean-up of the debris at the respective schools and presented a report that approves them for re-opening.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology believes that it is in the best interest for all parties that the schools be opened for normal operations on Wednesday, 18th September, 2013 at the usual time. Teachers, parents and school board members are invited to visit the schools on Wednesday, 18th September, 2013 to inspect the premises. Again, the Ministry thanks all affected for their cooperation and patience in these matters and will take the necessary steps to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the disruption to the education.
10.30AM UPDATE: Teachers are outside of the Uriah McPhee school this morning protesting against the conditions at the school. According to BUT president Belinda Wilson, teachers will not be holding classes at the school today as fumes from the ongoing construction work are too much for her members to handle. No students showed up at the school.
Also, at Stephen Dillett, Mrs Wilson said teachers are not teaching today as they are awaiting environmental specialists to inspect the building for fibreglass, which she said poses a health risk to students and teachers alike.
AS EDUCATION officials and the teachers union continue to wrangle over the state of two primary schools in New Providence, it was unclear yesterday if either facility would open today.
Despite assurances from Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald that they were given the go-ahead to resume classes – prompting officials to advise teachers to return to school at Stephen Dillet, Bahamas Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson said other issues came up which posed health concerns.
Speaking to The Tribune last evening, Ms Wilson said the union was still not pleased with the general state of Stephen Dillet which led to teachers leaving the facility shortly after noon. At Uriah McPhee, there has been no school either as the air conditioning unit is still not functioning.
She said: “When I got there (Stephen Dillet) only about 20 children were there and the water was off. They say the pipe was broken. The air condition people are still working and we discovered there are fibre glass in the building. Fibre glass causes lung cancer and skin rashes, and a variety of health hazards. Teachers left at 12:30 today.
“We are advising our teachers not to go into the building until further notice. We even discussed alternative sites to have classes.
“Uriah is closed because we are not pleased with how the air condition unit is functioning. We are waiting for a report from the ministry of education but we don’t expect school to be opened tomorrow.”
Earlier, Mr Fitzgerald had said he was advised that all was well at Stephen Dillet.
He said: “We got the clearance from the Ministry of Environment yesterday on the air quality and the teachers and students were asked to report to work today (Tuesday) so I’m not aware of any other concerns. I don’t know what concerns she (Belinda Wilson) will have. We were aware of the work that needed to be done, we had the work completed.
“Uriah McPhee, when the ministry went there they said there are still some issues that they are not satisfied with with regard to the cleaning and removal of the mould and so we did not open the school there and those works are continuing today and the ministry of environment will monitor and we will not put teachers or kids back in that school until we get clearance to do so.”