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Disruption of classes averted

The threatened disruption of classes at the start of the school term next week has dissipated with the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) calling off planned action.

BSTU President Mary Redman said its key demand for a meeting with the Ministry of Education on environmental issues at three of the island’s secondary schools had been met.

The BSTU had put the ministry on notice late last month that it would disrupt the reopening of school if officials had not met the union for talks on the situation at The Combermere School, The Lodge School and Springer Memorial Secondary School.

“At Lodge, they are presently still cleaning . . . and it should be completed before the end of the week.

“At Springer, the heavy work and the removal of the rubble and stuff — that is supposed to be completed by Thursday and that would be followed by an industrial cleaning of the school. So that the block most heavily affected is supposed to be handed back over to the school having been cleaned thoroughly,” Redman told Barbados TODAY.

However she revealed that the union had put forward several recommendations on how the school day could be planned to protect the health of students, teachers and staff in the event that work was not completed on time.

“One of the things that we suggested was starting the school day earlier and ending it earlier so that the noisy, dusty work would then be done after school hours.”

In the case of Combermere, Redman said the union had been informed of “a whole set of things” that had been done in order to get the Waterford, St Michael plant ready for classes, including the covering and sealing of wells and guttering on buildings.

“The additional toilets for the girls bathrooms, they are supposed to be done during the summer; they don’t want to do it now because it will be too disruptive. Extractor fans that were supposed to go in, that’s delayed as a result of a holdup from the EPD [Environment Protection Department].

“The epidemiology study, the Ministry of Education is waiting on word of that from the Ministry of Health and the provision of a nurse in the school [as well as] the reports that are due from the Ministry of Labour and from the inspections done in the first and second terms,” Redman said.

With regards to the controversial marking of the School Based Assessment Projects, the BSTU president said the Ministry reported that the matter was still before the Solicitor General for consideration.

She also indicated that the union was still awaiting a response from the ministry on the disciplinary issue surrounding Combermere senior teacher Reverend Charles Morris. (FW)

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