A mould infestation has reportedly forced the abrupt closure of the old Clarence Thomas Limited (CTL) building at Pasea Estate which houses senior Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) students.
The issue has caused the return of online classes for the next few days starting today, straight into next week.
This comes after students at the school recently returned to face-to-face sessions this term, following a year of online classes due to COVID-19.
When contacted for a comment on the issue, Education Minister, Dr Natalio Wheatley told BVI News the Pasea campus of Elmore Stoutt High School will be cleaned thoroughly for mould.
According to the Education Minister, “this is in keeping with the ministry’s commitment to eradicate mould in the learning environment and to present a safe and healthy space for administrators, teachers, students, and support staff.”
The notice of no physical classes was issued late last evening through various social media platforms, including a very brief Facebook message from the school’s Rams Media Group page.
Later in the evening, an email from the ESHS Principal, Vanessa Garraway, offered further details about the closure and how students should proceed.
Garraway said all classes, including technical classes which are usually held at the Lower Estate campus, are expected to remain online until the end of the period.
Reopening information, she said, will be communicated as soon as the process is completed and the building is ready.
Students are expected to check emails and Google classroom daily for updates.
Students struggle with breathing at CTL campus
Meanwhile, in a Facebook message posted yesterday afternoon, a high school teacher at the CTL campus made an earnest plea for something to be done about the dire situation at the campus.
In the message which garnered more than 100 reactions, the teacher, who is also a parent, said she was writing to plead with parents to take a stand for the children and avoid waiting until someone becomes a statistic or headline news.
She expressed that there has been no nurse assigned to the campus over the years and related an issue where a student suffered breathing challenges reportedly related to the mould issue.
“On my way to Riteway, I saw a student bent over struggling to breathe. I stopped and asked if she was ok. She could barely speak. She managed to tell me that she had asthma and was struggling. She had her pump, but it didn’t seem to be helping,” the teacher recalled.
Not knocking gov’t, several students want to leave
According to the educator, several students have asked to be allowed to leave the building, as they too struggled to breathe. She was quick to add that the students were not delinquent and were not inclined to be faking their condition.
“They are really struggling,” the teacher added. “Many of us are well aware that our children deal with medical issues, yet we send them to a school without a nurse. Even without a prior medical record, we know anything can happen.”
She continued: “My biggest fear is that one day we will have a situation that causes serious damage on my campus. Damage that may be mitigated if we had a trained nurse on hand. We all know the ambulance takes a while to get to most locations.”
The teacher advocated for someone to speak up, and said hoping for the best after dropping off students at the school was not enough. “We take the health of our children in our hands when we stay quiet,” she urged.
She added the caveat that her statements were not a knock on any government official since the students were there before the current administration. She said her statements were, rather, a cry for help.
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