Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw (centre) and officials, touring some of the schools involved in the Summer Schools Programme recently. (GP)

Students of the Belmont Primary School, at Belle Gully, St. Michael, will be greeted by a new prefab bathroom facility and other improvements when they return to school next Monday, September 23.

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, made the disclosure today after visiting the school which closed early on Monday, due to complaints from teachers and students about a strong paint odour on the compound.

The school was one of 41 schools renovated under the Ministry’s Schools Summer Programme, this year.  One of the upgrades at Belmont Primary was repairs to the bathroom facilities. 

And, one of the main areas of concern, the minister pointed out, was the girls’ bathroom, which had no partitions to separate the toilets.

Minister Bradshaw explained that originally the plan was to retrofit a container into a bathroom facility as a temporary fix while repairs were carried out, but that was thwarted after the contractor was unable to obtain it in time for the reopening of school, due to the passage of Tropical Storm Dorian.

“And that really placed us in a bind where we then had to determine if we should open school, or do we find an alternative accommodation for the students coming back in school.  The first priority for me is to make sure that the conditions in the school are safe and certainly sanitary and that the students can get back to work.  These are sometimes things that are beyond the ministry’s control; they are also beyond my control.

“What we attempted to do was to obtain quotations to have the portable toilets installed.  Some parents may feel that the portable toilets are not sanitary….  The photos I have seen circulating suggest that it is just a toilet inside, but it actually has a sink inside the facility.  We felt that was a higher end toilet that was being provided to accommodate the students.  It was far better than what obtained before,” Ms. Bradshaw stated.

She further added that the four existing bathrooms at the school were renovated and partitions erected to separate students, even though it was not included in the scope of works under the Schools Summer Programme.  The Education Minister said the additional portable toilets were meant to complement the existing toilets to allow school to continue.

“Given the urgency to get the students back into school, we are going to have the contractor to just construct a prefab next to the [existing] bathroom and install the toilets by Saturday at the latest, so that the students on Monday would be able to have four additional bathroom facilities as we would have planned originally,” Minister Bradshaw said.

She thanked the principal and teachers of the school for their patience and determination in making sure that Class Four students would be able to go back to school by tomorrow, Wednesday, September 18. 

Industrial cleaners have also been brought in to assist the janitorial staff at the school to make sure it is ready for next Monday, the minister said.

Additionally, it is expected that Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance, Dr. William Duguid, who was also on site today, will deploy a team from his ministry to fix the road leading to the school, which is in need of paving.

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