By Lara Pickford-Gordon, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the bustling environment of a primary school with more than 400 pupils, the Diego Martin Boys’ RC has issues which can lead to dire consequences.
There is the threat of physical injury because bars in the staircase are missing at different points; on the second-floor stairwell, a mishap could result in a child falling about 30 feet. Classes have metal doors but do not have a door closer so heavy metal doors have slammed on fingers of pupils.
There are as well problems to be rectified: replacement of electrical light fixtures– many fluorescent lights are non-functional leaving classrooms dark; corridors and perimeter without sufficient light; replacement of electrical sockets; incomplete toilet repairs, leaking water tanks; window frames in some classrooms have become detached from the walls; improvement of the perimeter fence, particularly on the southern side. Pigeon infestation has caused the school’s closure on two occasions and pigeon droppings and feathers are visible.
There is concern as musical equipment in the pan room can rust because of exposure to rainwater. Run off from the roof is being blocked by vines growing along the guttering. A request has also been made for gates to be installed near the music room to prevent pupils climbing on ledges and risk falling. Another issue is a four-inch hole which was not blocked after downpipes were moved.
The Education Ministry was notified of the problems last year with the hope they would be included in the 2017 July–August repair programme. A contractor recently conducted unclogging of sewer lines however, the school awaits an intervention on the other problems identified. Personnel from the Education Facilities Company Ltd and Education Facilities Planning and Procurement Division have visited the school to see the scope of work.
A source at the Ministry of Education informed the Catholic News Diego Boys’ RC will be included in this year’s July-August repair programme.
Repairs at Biche RC to keep bats away
Meanwhile, the Secondary Entrance Assessment went well for pupils of the Biche RC who sat the May 3 exam at Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church. The Standard Five Class had been occupying the church’s annex while preparing for the exam because a bat infestation made their school at Borel Street, Newlands Village, a health hazard. Allergies, burning sensation in face and throat, and skin lesions are some of the symptoms linked to the presence of the bats.
Pupils of the other classes have been kept home following a decision by the Parent Teachers’ Association last month. To facilitate learning, parents have been directed to websites including that of the Education Ministry and can contact teachers for guidance. Class work has also been prepared and left with the security guard for parents to collect.
Parents called for a new roof at the school to prevent recurrence of the bat problem. The Catholic News learnt Biche RC’s bat problem has existed for over 20 years with cleaning and sanitising occurring over the years and attempts made to block the bats’ entry points.
The administrative block was cleaned and sanitised last September and suspected entry points addressed. Some parents however volunteered to thoroughly clean the school but bats continue to get into the building. The school has been inspected by personnel from the Anti-Rabies Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, and an Occupational Safety and Health inspector from the OSH Authority. On April 19, personnel from the Education Facilities Planning and Procurement Division conducted an assessment at the school.
The Catholic News was informed that a contractor began work on the roof April 30. The section of the ceiling which was worst affected by the bat infestation will be changed; the area vacuumed and sanitised; mesh installed over ventilation blocks and the entire compound sanitised. The project was expected to take one week.