Parents want consistent police presence as Rose Hill school reopens

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Cpl Marcano Phillip walks a student if the Rose Hill Primary School on the compound on La Coule Street, Port of Spain as school re-opened after being closed for one because of gun shots in the area. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

From 7.30 am on Wednesday, heavily armed police and soldiers kept watch as students of the Rose Hill RC Primary School, Laventille, walked to school. This is the first time the school has been open for in-person classes since a gunfight between rival gangs prompted students and staff to duck and take cover on October 31.

Most of the students live near the school and were not accompanied by their parents.

The few parents who did walk with their children told Newsday while the school’s reopening was inevitable, they felt more should be done to better protect their children.

Students enter the Rose Hill Primary School, La Coule Street, Port of Spain as school re-opened after being closed for one because of gunshots in the area. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

The parent of a standard two student told Newsday she was pleased with the police presence, but hoped they would continue to keep watch over the school for as long as possible.

“There’s nothing wrong with security, there should be security at all schools. But something has to be done about this situation, and all the police we’re seeing here today, we should have been seeing them a long time ago.

“I’m pleased with what I’m seeing, and I would like it to continue. It should be ongoing, Not just because an incident happened they should come out.”

Another parent said he was happy the police and regiment were at the school on Wednesday, He hoped a police post could be set up in nearby vacant lots to provide additional comfort to the community.

“Nothing is happening in those spaces you’re seeing, I can’t imagine it would take a lot for them (the police) to set up a little tent, or maybe one of those trailers they use during Carnival.

“My son is eight years old and I talk to him all the time about what to do in situations like that.”

Principal Sharlene Quamina got to school at around 7.40 am and greeted students, who waited at the security booth, before ushering them to the auditorium for an assembly.

During the assembly, Quamina spoke to the students.

Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland also attended the assembly and reassured staff and students the authorities were working to protect them.

“The staff was very receptive. They understand that we are serious about ensuring the continuity of this institution.

“It pained me in any circumstance to see the children on the ground, I thought it was symbolic and they understood it when I told them not to lie down, but to rise, and rise they did.

“That is what I want, for us to rise. That is what we are about, not staying on the ground.”