TN Tatem reports ‘warned of mould’

  • TN Tatem

  • Education minister Diallo Rabain (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Education minister Diallo Rabain (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Health problems among staff and a pupil at a now-closed middle school cannot be linked to the building without further medical information, a report has claimed.

The Cabinet Office report, from the Office of the Safety and Health Co-ordinator, said that symptoms reported by eight teachers and one pupil at TN Tatem Middle School were “very general in nature”.

It added: “The symptoms that were reportedly being experienced were also not deemed specific enough to determine any specific etiology, any direct cause and effect relationship, or reliable and objective associations in the absence of any doctor’s report or other medical information from a trusted source.”

It added that all the symptoms complained about “will require further investigations and objective medical diagnosis to validate”.

The report, released on Thursday, is based on inspections performed at TN Tatem last week.

Titus Gordon, the Cabinet health and safety officer, conducted the inspections at the Warwick school.

The 26-page report included a breakdown of the symptoms of the nine complainants.

Symptoms reported by teachers included breathing difficulties, headaches and eye irritation.

The complaint from the pupil described itchy and watery eyes over the last four months.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said: “As we review the forms and we get the proper documentation we will act upon it.”

The report said that health and safety problems earlier identified at the school “that were previously addressed for the most part have apparently resurfaced in and across certain areas of the school’s facilities again”.

It added: “Additionally, earlier reports did warn that if timely proactive steps were not taken to remedy the litany of minor outstanding findings that had remained to be resolved that they would eventually morph into greater and more serious issues.

“This now appears to be the case.”

The report outlined inspections done in 20 areas of the school, including several classrooms, and the school’s library and auditorium.

A backstage room of the auditorium was found to have “mould-contaminated ceiling tiles, floors and walls”. Store rooms were also found to have “mould-contaminated walls and ceiling tiles”.

More mould-contaminated walls were discovered in an IT server closet between the school’s music room and auditorium. The music room was also found to have “poor indoor air quality” and a “lingering mould stench”.

Early mould growth was noticed along window sills in the school’s science labs.

A “dirty and mould-contaminated air-conditioning unit” was reported in the design and tech lecture room.

A closet used by school custodians and an outside storage area were found to have “mould-contaminated walls”.

Mr Rabain was speaking as he revealed parts of the report on Thursday.

He highlighted work carried out in 2013 and 2016, which he said “outlined concerns related to the general maintenance and upkeep of the school’s plant concerning roof and ceiling leaks, excess fugitive moisture intrusion into the building via damaged areas of the building envelope, poor housekeeping and general cleaning, sanitation and hygiene practices”.

All public schools, including TN Tatem, were inspected between August and October 2017.

Further inspections were carried out at all public schools between September and October 2018 and an additional assessment was made at TN Tatem in February.

Mr Gordon’s report found that “outstanding works were still yet to be completed from the time of the previous inspection reports”.

It added: “These incomplete works have now served as the catalyst for further damages, even to the area that were previously rectified.

“Leaking sections of the roof/ceiling continue to plague the school, although intermittently in most cases, and has caused water damage to areas previously addressed, as well as new areas that previously had no damage.”

Mr Gordon found that “inconsistencies in the scope, frequency and quality of cleaning” at the school remained a problem.

He also highlighted the “improper storage of materials and supplies”.

Mr Gordon added: “Some teachers continue to hoard outdated, obsolete and infrequently used materials and supplies ... which they have failed to properly keep and maintain.”

Mr Rabain said work to tackle storage problems at the school had started before it was closed last week.

He added that Mr Gordon’s report would now be reviewed to check if needed work could be completed by the end of August.

Mr Rabain announced on April 12 that the school would remain closed for the rest of the year.

It was closed on April 9 after a walkout by teachers and pupils over health fears.

The closure order was sparked by a letter from the Parent Teacher Student Association to education officials that highlighted “grave concerns about the health of the learning environment”.

To see the report and the comments from Diallo Rabain, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

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Published Apr 20, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 20, 2019 at 8:03 am)

TN Tatem reports ‘warned of mould’

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