Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Karen Best. (FP)

Class Four pupils of the St. Lawrence Primary School have settled in at their new temporary location, Arthur Smith Primary School, Pleasant Hall Land, St. Matthias, Christ Church.

This follows the closure of their school from today, Monday, February 26, due to a sewage spillage on the premises, resulting from ongoing environmental problems related to the sewerage system along the south coast.

The Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation made the decision to close the school on the advice of the Ministry of Health, as a precautionary measure.

Chief Education Officer, Karen Best, stated that she met with parents of the Class Four pupils this morning at Arthur Smith Primary to apprise them of the situation.

“I spoke with the parents and all of the parents understood the situation and the need to move the children out. And, because these children are taking the Common Entrance Exam, we did not want them to be at home. That is why there was the short notice so that these children would be at school and continue their preparations for the exam,” she explained, after the meeting.

Mrs. Best added that the children would stay there for “as long as it takes for the situation [at St. Lawrence Primary] to be rectified”.

Following the meeting, the Chief Education Officer, along with Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Harcourt Husbands; Deputy Chief Education Officer (Schools), Joy Adamson; Deputy Chief Education Officer (Curriculum), Roderick Rudder; Principal of St. Lawrence Primary School, Andrea Cheltenham; and other officials from the Ministry of Education scouted two locations – St. Matthias Church Hall and Annex and the St. Lawrence Anglican Church – as temporary locations for the rest of the student body.

Mrs. Best said that after carefully inspecting both locations, the decision was made that Classes One, Two and Three pupils would be relocated to the St. Matthias Church Hall and Annex in St. Matthias, Christ Church, while the Nursery, Reception and Infants A and B pupils would be housed at the St. Lawrence Anglican Church, St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church. She said she would be meeting with parents soon to brief them on the Ministry’s plans.

The Chief Education Officer thanked Rector of the St. Matthias Anglican Church, Reverend Hugh Sandiford, and Reverend Sandra Hazell of the St. Lawrence Anglican Church, for accommodating the children at such short notice. She noted, however, that a decision still had to be made as to how soon pupils in Class Three and under would be able to start classes at their new locations.

Principal, Andrea Cheltenham, said she was pleased with the alternative accommodations for all of the 210 pupils on the roll at St. Lawrence Primary School. “Our main focus is the students so we will do whatever we can to ensure that the children’s education transitions smoothly,” she said.

Senator Husbands explained that while the situation was unfortunate, the Ministry of Education had “responded well” by putting a contingency plan in place. “We are not sure exactly how long it will continue but… the focus here is getting these children back to school and focused on education and whatever is necessary to do that, we are prepared to do,” he emphasised.

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