Time for action on school mould
The issue of mould has come to a head at TN Tatem Middle School because it has not been adequately and effectively addressed by the education ministry or public works ministry.
We have tests after tests performed by the Government’s health and safety officers, water consultants and other local and international consultants. The scale of the problem has been identified and well defined, but the Government’s remediation plans are not working and have been ineffective. As a consequence, our students and teachers continue to be at risk.
Let’s be frank, this government has not committed sufficient resources to have this matter cleared and resolved once and for all. We have had enough of studies; it is time for action.
They know that students and teachers are at risk.
I have been advised that 12 teachers and three students have reported their concerns to the ministry. In fact, one teacher reported that she had to come to school with a face mask because she contracted bronchitis as a result of the mould. Eventually, she had to quit the school for health reasons.
In light of this teacher’s departure, the school hired a replacement teacher who joined the school as recent as January this year. She was not aware of the challenges faced by the previous teacher in the same classroom, and she is now faced with similar bronchial attacks.
Are these similar health challenges being faced by our students?
On another note, last year the Minister of Public Works made it his business and went to Dellwood Middle School to examine the mould challenges faced by the school, and came up with a plan to address these challenging issues.
It is now time for him to do the same for TN Tatem. The school is in a chronic state and needs immediate attention, and lasting remediation plans. Just lowering the presence of mould to acceptable levels and respective species counts is not good enough, as this addresses only the symptoms of the problem, not the root cause.
The Government must decide what it is going to do. It has to either craft a proper remediation plan, which would address the root causes of the unhealthy levels of mould that have plagued this school in recent times, or it must make a decision to repurpose the school and its campus.
This state of affairs just cannot be allowed to continue.
We cannot have this recurring problem and farm out our students and teachers to other schools such as Clearwater Middle School, Purvis Primary, Heron Bay Primary and Paget Primary. This action is disruptive to students, teachers and parents, and is simply not conducive to the delivery of quality education and improved student outcomes.
This time has now come for the Government make some difficult decisions for the school, its students, teachers and parents. The mould and health challenges cannot linger on.
• Cole Simons is the Shadow Minister of Education and the MP for Smith’s South (Constituency 8)