St George’s students begin school at UTT Valsayn

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

St George’s College students make their way to class at UTT’s Valsayn campus on Monday. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

There was an air of cautious optimism on Monday as students of St George’s College began classes at UTT’s Valsayn Campus, where they have been relocated temporarily while repairs are being done to their school.

Most students said they were glad to be back to face-to-face classes after being online since the beginning of October.

The school, in Barataria, was closed on October 10 after a ceiling collapsed in the hallway at the front of the staffroom on October 6 after heavy rain.

Two students waiting for transport at Curepe Junction said both they and their parents were angry that the school had not been repaired, over three weeks after the roof fell in. They said the student council had sent out pictures of the classrooms at the UTT campus and they looked like a nice upgrade.

A parent dropping her daughter off at school said, “Once it’s safe for them here and they’re getting public schooling I don’t have a problem with it. Staying home doing online classes is not doing well for them. One-on-one with the teachers and their schoolmates is better for them mentally and physically.

“I’m not living too far from here so this works out fine for me, and the previous St George’s area works out fine for me as well.

“I really do hope that the school is repaired quickly.”

Her daughter agreed.

“I’m glad that we got a place to stay for the while. I’m not good with online schooling and I can’t just watch a screen for so long every day and pay attention, so I rather just be here.”

Another daughter, a past student of St George’s, said the school has had problems for years.

“I think that they really need to get their act together, because they supposed to know the kind of things (needed). I have been to every single class, and they do not upkeep the school, classes, anything.

“That is why the school is run down the way it is. What’s crazy to me is just, over the holidays, they did nothing to the school. They rather just paint over the school 100 times, and they will not fix the classrooms.”

Her mother said the Education Ministry needed to focus on schools a little more, especially as St George’s is such a prominent school.

“I think that they need to improve the environment, the school structure. The children coming here now, so they can now start working on the school. I know the school has a lot of electrical problems, the structure is a problem, and all those things now they can attend to.”

A parent who travelled to the school with her daughter said she was glad the children were able to go back out to classes.

“The length of time they were home, it took a toll on them. Some teachers were sending work and other were not, so it was a hard transition.

“Travelling here wasn’t so bad, because we’re coming from in the (Maracas) Valley, but the transportation…getting the maxi in Curepe this morning was a little tough. So it’s easier to travel to, but I still can’t wait for them to finish fix the school so they can go back.”

At Curepe Junction, the green-band maxis which travel on the Southern Main Road between Chaguanas and Curepe were coming in slowly, where normally there are four or five on the stand at all times. A teacher told Newsday there were problems with transport owing to flooding in central Trinidad.

“It’s something we are just working to see how it settles, at least for this week here.

“But so far, it’s okay. We are just monitoring the developments and then we’ll make a full pronouncement online.”

He said enough facilities had been allocated for the school so far, to his knowledge.

“The space is actually conducive so far. But we’ll wait and see, and when we get to teaching the full curriculum we will know what is going on.”

The move was not without its hiccups, as Newsday overheard a teacher telling a school employee there were problems with the electrical system in at least one classroom, and a Form One classroom was locked.

Parents were also told that in future they would not be able to drop their children directly inside the school grounds, but at the layby a few metres from the entrance. Cars were seen driving to the back of the compound to drop off students.

With reporting by Adriana Salandy