Isolation Facilities Manager, Dr. Corey Forde, showing the touring party some of the improvements at the Blackman and Gollop Primary School during the official handover of the school. (Media Resource Department)

The Blackman & Gollop Primary School has been officially handed back over to the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, after being used as an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients by the Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW).

Following an extensive environmental sanitisation process, the facility will once again function as a primary school, come September. 

Situated at Staple Grove, Christ Church, the compound now boasts a number of improvements, compliments of the Ministry of Health, including newly painted classrooms and bathrooms, improved lighting fixtures, water tanks and upgraded Wi-Fi.

Isolation Facilities Manager, Dr. Corey Forde, took officials from the Ministry of Education, including Minister Santia Bradshaw, and representatives from the unions and the school’s Parent-Teacher Association on a tour yesterday to show them the enhancements.

“I just want to commend the Ministry of Education for allowing us to use this facility for this purpose.  And for the environmental people who came in and cleaned the compound for a whole week – plus. And then the environmental health team from the Ministry of Health who came in and made sure everything was in order. We hope and pray that we won’t have to use any more schools for this purpose again,” Dr. Forde told those on tour.

Minister Bradshaw, in thanking health officials, said she was impressed with the level of work that went into returning the facility to its original purpose.  

She said this showed the “high calibre” of individuals working within the Ministry of Health. Ms. Bradshaw noted that persons would have had a “sense of nervousness” when they first heard the school was going to be used as an isolation centre.

The Ministry of Health painted classrooms and restored this mural, in preparation for the handover. (Media Resource Department)

“People were uncertain. We are still operating in an uncertain environment, but I think we didn’t know as much then as we know now …. From what I see here, I feel very proud to be a Barbadian. It shows what we can do when things are urgent and I would like that that work ethic be something that we see throughout everything that we do. Because the way that you have been able to transform the school … you’ve been able to demonstrate that just with the right amount of paint and the correct aesthetics, we can get a school back into operation fairly quickly. And that is really to the credit of the Ministry of Health.

At the end of the day, we want to get the children back into school. We know it is not going to be a normal environment when September comes, but we have to still make sure that the environment is safe. So, whether it is full capacity, or 50 per cent capacity…, I feel comfortable,” she emphasised.

Union and PTA representatives also expressed their satisfaction with the spruced-up compound.  Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Rudy Lovell, whose daughter attends the school, said after touring the facility and hearing about the extensive work done by the Ministry of Health, he felt safe sending his child back to the school.

President of the PTA, Trisha Augustine, said she too was impressed with the level of work that went into cleaning and improving the school plant, and would relay what she saw and heard to the parent body.  

Additionally, Acting President of the BUT, Richmark Cave, gave his approval of the facilities, stating that he was confident that “the teachers when they return to this environment will be returning to an improved environment, where teaching and learning can recommence”.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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