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Teachers have ‘grave concerns’ about asbestos

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Teachers have “grave concerns” about pupils and staff at an East End school contaminated by asbestos, the head of the Bermuda Union of Teachers said yesterday.

Shannon James, the president of the BUT, said that the union demanded the highest standards of safety in school buildings for staff and pupils.

He added that news that asbestos had been found at Clearwater Middle School in St David's had disturbed the profession.

Mr James said: “To hear that there has been asbestos in areas of Clearwater, when we know the danger that exposure to it brings, causes grave concerns regarding the students who go in and out of each class and especially for the staff who are stationed in the affected rooms and are there for the majority of the day.”

He added that school staff, parents and pupils needed to be shown how this problem had been eradicated, if it had been fully addressed or what the plan was if there was a need for extra work to be carried out at the school.

Mr James said: “To be this close to school opening and not knowing what is happening is definitely not a good thing.”

He said that the union had asked for certificates of occupancy for public schools that showed they had been maintained and that problems had been fixed.

He added: “This further demonstrates the need for such an inspection to be carried out to ensure the safety and health of a school family.

“We can't imagine what must be going through the minds of the faculty and students of Clearwater Middle School, knowing that they may have been exposed to such harmful material.”

He was speaking after the Government confirmed that work to remove asbestos had been carried out at the school this summer.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said that an independent inspection was being carried out “to ensure the school is safe to occupy”.

She added: “A further statement will be made once the third-party inspector has submitted the final report.”

A two-day inspection of the school carried out in August 2017 by the Office of the Safety and Health Co-ordinator revealed that “suspected asbestos” had been found in a storeroom.

A report note said: “Confirmation testing requested; results being awaited.”

Inspections of all public schools were completed last year between September 17 and October 17. The survey at Clearwater found that there were “ongoing potential asbestos exposure concerns” over the storeroom.

The findings of both reports were released to the public in March.

Union leader: Shannon James (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Clearwater Middle School (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 21, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated August 21, 2019 at 9:14 am)

Teachers have ‘grave concerns’ about asbestos

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