St Andrew’s Anglican School, Calder Hall. – David Reid
The doors of the St Andrew’s Anglican Primary school will remain closed for another two weeks.
A press release on Sunday evening from the THA Division of Education, Research and Technology gave stakeholders an update on the school, which was scheduled to reopen on Monday after being closed on February 17.
The release said health and safety concerns at the school are still being addressed by the division.
Speaking with Newsday, TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Tobago Officer Bradon Roberts supported the continued closure. In a previous interview, Roberts said the disruption was necessary as a rat infestation was detected “a couple weeks ago by the staff.”
He said on Monday, “The extension was needed as the treatment would not have been completed in the seven-day timeframe that they would have given.
“Yes, I mean the teachers are concerned because they want to give their best to their students. I want to congratulate them first of all because if they didn’t make a stand, they would have been there in that condition – getting ill and being encouraged to have a heart and focus on the children, while both the children and the teachers would have been getting sick.”
Assistant Secretary of Education Orlando Kerr explained why the additional two weeks was necessary.
“The OSH authorities – there are some serious issues with rats, but the rats are basically coming from the community…So we have to involve health (division) now, in terms of a comprehensive plan to treat with the rats…There is a community bin close by and it is seemed to be coming predominantly from that area so what we thought initially was just a school problem and that we could have just killed the rats in the school – remove the carcasses and sanitise, we realised that it was much more than that.
“Health is engaging a comprehensive plan now to try to eradicate the rats in that area.”
On what measures are being put in place to ensure teaching can still take place, Kerr said, “All the students are online right now. Standard five is being decanted, so at the John Dial Multipurpose Facility they’ll be doing face-to-face (teaching). But the rest of the school, the size of the school population – that is one of the largest school population on the island and therefore we don’t have a space where we can house all of them. And then logistically to decant a school for two weeks, it is kind of difficult as well too. We’re decanting standard five but the rest of the school will be online until.
“We’re trying to do it as soon as possible. It would be sometime this week, hopefully Wednesday the latest, that is what we’re pushing for. We’re trying to do it as soon as possible to minimise the amount of time that they’re away from school.”
Attempts to contact the school’s principal for comment on Monday proved futile as calls went unanswered.