Strange fungus at Secondary school
By Richardson Dhalai Saturday, September 15 2012
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PEACEFUL PROTEST: Students of the Palo Seco Government Secondary school attempt to get the attention of Education Minister, Dr Tim Gopeesingh after cl...
Parents of students attending the Palo Seco government secondary school have vowed to keep their children from attending classes until a mystery fungus, which appears to be spreading throughout the compound, has been identified and the school’s premises fumigated.
The parents, together with several teachers and students, staged a peaceful placard demonstration outside the school’s SS Erin Road compound yesterday, while the sounds of power-washing could be heard emanating from inside the school’s compound by contractors engaged by the Ministry to sanitise the school.
Palo Seco parent teachers association, 2nd vice-president, Marjorie Figeroux- Thomas, expressed dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Education’s silence on the nature of the fungus, and the possible impact on the health of their children.
“Our main concern is if our students and teachers have contracted this, and showing symptoms we would not know what to look for, neither do we know how serious this is,” she said, adding, “so far we have not gotten no communication from the Ministry of Education, no one is speaking to us.”
She pointed out that the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute, (CARIRI), had taken some samples of the fungi for testing, saying the results would be known sometime next week.
“We are deeply concerned about our children’s education and their health. This is the reason for us being here today, and we would continue to be here until someone addresses us, and tell us exactly what is taking place,” she added.
In full agreement was TTUTA staff representative, Barrington Richardson, who stated that the school’s 40-plus teachers, would not be returning to the school’s compound until a definitive statement was made on the issue.
“We are not going back into the building until we get clearance from CARIRI, who did the test and we know what is going on there,” he said. He also questioned, “what type of fungus we are dealing with?
“Until they say the building is safe, we are not going back in there.”
He said numerous reports had been made to the Ministry, and nothing had been done saying the problem has since grown from the art room, to other areas in the school.
“We had to condemn a classroom last term because of the problem.
Children began suffering from asthma, breathing problems, itching, so we condemned that classroom, and we reported it to the ministry again,” Barrington said.
“At the end of the August period here, it was in the classroom. We are not working under these conditions, so far we have even stopped coming to sign. For the first week we came in to sign the register. When we returned this Monday gone, we said we are not coming back in the building,” he said.
Meanwhile, an officer at CARIRI’s communications depatrtment confirmed that testing had been conducted at the school, and the results had been forwarded to its client, the Education Facilities Company Limited, (EFCL). The person said they could not comment on the results.
Calls to the EFCL’s communications department went unanswered.