Potential mould’ at TN Tatem
A classroom closed over mould fears at TN Tatem Middle School has been shuttered for months, the shadow education minister claimed yesterday.
Cole Simons said: “It’s been closed since September.”
He was speaking yesterday after a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education said that a room at the Warwick public school had been closed after “potential mould” was discovered.
The spokeswoman said that Department of Education staff had been notified by staff and pupils at the school about concerns over possible mould in parts of the building.
She added: “To address possible concerns such as these, the DOE took action by instituting ongoing mould checks at all public schools.
“As a result of these checks, one room at TN Tatem has been closed for an extended period of time.”
The spokeswoman said that all preschools, primary schools and middle schools had been inspected earlier this school year. She added: “The second round of inspections for this school year commenced this month.”
The spokeswoman said that a mould assessment at the school was to begin yesterday.
Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, said: “Our first priority is to ensure safe and healthy school facilities for the Bermuda public school system.”
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, announced in August that all public schools would be safe before the start of the school year.
Mr Simons said that it was “inexcusable” that parents and staff were told that conditions would be safe, only to have a classroom closed a month later.
He added that it was “irresponsible” that the classroom hadn’t been addressed over the Christmas break and showed “poor management”.
Mr Simons said that he hoped the room closure would not lead to finger pointing from the Government.
He said of the One Bermuda Alliance: “We’ve been out for 18 months. For 18 months they’ve been in the saddle — and mould grows in 18 months. So they have to take responsibility for challenges at that school.”
Mr Simons said he believed that the second round of inspections starting this month would find mould in other institutions.
He added: “Can we believe that they have come to grips with the mould situation throughout other schools, given this example?”
Shannon James, the president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, said the union supported the classroom closure.
Mr James said: “The BUT takes comfort in the actions of the ministry in ensuring that the students and teachers at TN Tatem have a safe environment in which to teach and learn.
“We also ask for the swift remediation of the affected room, as well as for any other room that may be found to be affected by the mould.”
Yesterday’s announcement is not the first time the school has been affected by mould concerns.
Staff and pupils were forced to relocate to Clearwater Middle School, in St David’s, for several weeks beginning in December 2016.
Wayne Scott, then Minister of Education in the OBA government, told the House of Assembly in February 2017 that $93,000 had been disbursed for repairs and mould remediation at the school. An indoor air-quality assessment was also carried out in five rooms at the school in September 2016.
Island Air Quality Services said the results indicated concerns related to airborne moulds in art classroom supply rooms along with another classroom.
The report added: “Of particular note is the presence of the toxigenic moulds Stachybotrys and Chaetomium in the art supply rooms.”
The report recommended several measures to improve and maintain air quality in the school.
These included ensuring that windows were water tight, daily ventilation of rooms by having windows opened, and regular serving of air-conditioning units.
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