Rescue us, please!

Morris appeals for relief for Combermere

An appeal today by an outspoken Anglican cleric to the island’s education authorities to put students and teachers at the Combermere School out of their current misery by abandoning all classes at the problem-plagued Waterford, St Michael learning institution.

Describing the situation as “dire”, Reverend Charles Morris, who heads the school’s History Department, called on the Ministry of Education to urgently step in and to provide an alternative location to Combermere until a worsening environmental problem there is resolved.

Morris told Barbados TODAY that several students and teachers were falling ill. He also said that he and some other teachers had been forced to ditch their classrooms because of a foul odour, which he said was especially pungent in the History room.

As a result, History lessons are now being taught in the school’s foyer, and Morris said he had informed Principal Vere Parris, as well as officials at the Ministry of Education of the development.

“It is an odour that is obnoxious to refined nostrils,” the Anglican cleric said.

“Students are getting sick, teachers are getting sick. I myself have been having problems. I was okay over the weekend and the moment I come back to school this week I have been losing my voice and I have been having headaches,” Morris added.

In recent years, the school has been plagued with several of these reports. However, numerous industrial cleanings and environmental probes have failed to produce a sustainable cure.

While suggesting that the problem had to do with air quality, Morris said: “I do not think the authorities are addressing our problem.

“Right now I would prefer us to move out that place, because it is my health that comes first,” he told Barbados TODAY.

Efforts to reach the principal, Minister of Education Ronald Jones and the Chief Education Officer were unsuccessful.

However, when contacted, President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman said she was aware of the situation.

In fact, she said since the beginning of the school term in September, she has been receiving reports of teachers falling ill with symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath and burning and itchy skin.

Redman said she was also aware that the Secretary Treasurer’s office had to be relocated because all of the persons working there had fallen ill.

She disclosed that during the second week of this school term she had met with Chief Education Officer Karen Best at the ministry’s Constitution Road headquarters to discuss the matter.

“It is very worrying for the union and the teachers because we thought that when the supposedly remedial actions were undertaken last time that the problem would have been addressed. Obviously they were not addressed because the root of the problem has not been found,” she told Barbados TODAY.

The union leader also expressed concern that the final report, including the findings of the investigations carried out at the institution, was not made available to the BSTU as was initially promised.

“None of those things have been forthcoming and have been sources of concern for us. We need something compiled, something coherent, something analytical,” said Redman, who is scheduled to hold follow up talks with officials in the Ministry of Education on Monday.

9 Responses to Rescue us, please!

  1. Jan Hold
    Jan Hold November 3, 2016 at 4:34 am

    It is the oldest secondary school but PlzZzz to think about the pl health move those children it’s an very old building very. Have friends children that go there and they kids always sickkkkkk hmmmmm I believe they don’t want to end up like the last two secondary school were you have now ppl are dying from the schools with cancer hmmmmm parents think about you child health

  2. Hal Austin November 3, 2016 at 4:46 am

    Why is this problem running for ages and why is a minister of the cloth and historian leading the protest?
    Get on with the teaching and mentoring the pupils to be steadfast in the face of adversity. That is what Combermere is about.

  3. Wendy Clarke
    Wendy Clarke November 3, 2016 at 5:28 am

    The other alternative is all teachers go on strike. Granted it will affect the children temporarily but isn’t ill health. Silent Protest is the answer especially as this is such a significant month. Royalty will be visiting etc. Worldwide everyone has eyes on Barbados. Decisions decisions.

  4. Helicopter(8P) November 3, 2016 at 9:26 am

    For general public information Combermere School building is not that very old. As I might recollect I think it was a completely new building in the later part of the 1950’s. An ecological study of the surrounding soil and soil samples should be performed at specific localities.

  5. Phil November 3, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Let’s think and act positive here people. The Min. of Education, through the PM should TEMPORARILY relocate the school to a designated section of The Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Center . Sir Lloyd himself being a former and highly respected educator himself, not to mention former PM. The current Combermere facility should then be immediately and vigorously sanitized, cleared by health officials and herald the readmission of those temporarily displaced students. This is nothing out of reach and cost of the education and Health Ministries. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with politics. This is just my small suggestion. Time frame, 90 days most.

  6. Helicopter(8P) November 3, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Would you like to be a teacher in Yellow Knife Canada where you travel through blistering winds at six in the morning and face a blinding snow storm on the road to school? Why ? Is it the norm today’s Barbadian work force to persist in calling wildcats and general strikes. Internationally it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

  7. seagul November 3, 2016 at 10:37 am

    We are not living in yellow–silver–blue—or gold knife, this concerns Barbados and our precious citizens health.

  8. Big Brown November 3, 2016 at 11:03 am

    This problem has been going on for too long. It might be time to bring in some very specialized help, but who knows with this Government. They certainly are not known for their caring or compassion.

  9. Tony Waterman November 4, 2016 at 12:58 am

    @Helicopter(8p) The School is about 58 Years old, it was Opened in September 1958, i was in the First group of Students to occupy that Building, prior to that we Occupied the Huts at the Drill Hall (The Garrison)(St.Anns Fort)

    I am NOT any type of Engineer, but they are some questions that need to be answered, when that School was Built, Asbestos Roofing was quite prevelant in Barbados, The Cargo Sheds at the bridgetown Harbour Still has it, and if anyone wnat to do the research look at how many retired workers from that Harbour who worked in those sheds have died from Cancer, so!! does Combermere School still has Asbestos Roofing ???
    I have consistently asked if any of these Experrts had actually went up into that Roof, to check on Bat and Pigeon Droppings in that roof, The School in St George had that Problem, and The Teachers had the same Health Complaints, and they ubsequently replaced the Ceiling and covered the Corner vents (Entrance Points) with Mesh Wire, seems as if that solved the problen, no further compplaints.The well by the Head Masters (principals) Office now does NOT suck water in Like it used to back in the Day, that area all under the Almond Tree Now Floods whenever it rains Heavily, Probably was Never cleaned ot, or not cleaned out properly,
    The Problem has to be something in or in very close proximity to that Building, as there is NOTHING else to cause that problem, That was Cane field before the School was Built, there was NOTHING there to cause any Ground Contamination. we used to steal canes there and fron Codrington Ground across the Street (Just had to look out for Mr, Bell the watchman)

    Good Luck in remeding this problem
    Up an On.


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