School PTA Holds Meeting Over Safety Concerns

May 23, 2017 | 4 Comments

[Written by Don Burgess + Updated]

Last night, parents and teachers from Harrington Sound Primary School got to air their concerns about health and safety issues to education officials at an urgent meeting.

Approximately 80 to 100 parents, teachers and staff showed up to the PTA meeting at the school. Commissioner of Education Dr. Freddie Evans, Education Minister Cole Simons and representatives from Bermuda Pest Control were present to hear concerns about mold, brown water, bird mites, insects and the safety of the Harrington sound’s playground equipment.

The school was closed for two days last week as it “experienced an infestation of bird mites due to birds nesting in the roof.”

At that point Dr. Evans said: “While the mites are not harmful to humans, we wish to safeguard the health of students and staff as the mites could potentially trigger allergies or asthma.” He promised that the pests would be eradicated and the closure would allow for other general maintenance to be conducted.

Earlier this school year, T.N. Tatem Middle School had to be temporarily closed as safety issues, including mold at that educational facility were addressed.

PTA president Deann Trott told Bernews that the people who showed up at the meeting were “asking questions and looking for answers about what had been done, why this has happened and what is the plan for improvements for the safety and health of our children and teachers and staff.”

Ms. Trott added: “Parents were concerned about the lack of communication and the late awareness of the issues.”

Dr. Evans told the concerned audience that he would provide the parents, via the school, with the answers to the Health and Safety Report at some point on Tuesday [today]. Dr. Evans is also supposed to identify what steps will be taken to resolve these ongoing issues.

Update 3.48pm: PLP spokesperson for Education Diallo Rabain said, “Yesterday morning, as PLP Spokesperson for Education, I visited with the teachers and staff of Harrington Sound Primary School, as they opted to sit-out over concerns about student safety due to the discovery of a bird mite infestation.

“Teachers and students were forced to wait over two hours for Education Minister Cole Simons and fumigation company representatives to make assurances that the school was safe. However, when asked whether the Department of Health’s Health and Safety Office had been informed and asked to do an independent inspection, the answer was no.

“Upon hearing this, the teachers rightfully decided to withdraw the students from the building, refusing to re-enter until such an independent inspection was complete. It was only during the emergency PTA meeting last night that parents were fully informed of the situation.

“As we wait for adequate answers to be provided about the safety of the school, the status of the bird mite infestation and the steps ahead to address it, questions must be asked as to the priorities of the OBA Government yet again.

“The TN Tatem mould infestation provided an opportunity for the OBA to refocus their priorities on health and safety issues in our public schools. Instead, as Minister Cole Simons himself remarked, the OBA once again dropped the ball on our public school students and teachers.

“This state of affairs is unacceptable. I call on the Minister of Education to provide assurances that this situation will be dealt with in a timely manner and that the health and safety of all our schools will be assessed. We cannot wait for yet another incident in another school to occur before taking action.”

Update 5.40pm: Minister of Education Cole Simons said, “This morning the Commissioner of Education, Dr. Freddie Evans surveyed the Harrington Sound Primary school campus with the building manager and foreman from Works and Engineering. Following the independent pest control company’s removal of bird nests and fumigation, the Government Safety and Health Officer did not see any evidence of bird mites in the classrooms however, points of access for birds in the roofs and eaves must be sealed in order to avoid a reoccurrence of the problem.

“Works and Engineering and the building manager have outlined an aggressive plan to address the open access points for bird entry into the school. Work will begin on Thursday, May 25th and the work is expected to be concluded by Friday, June 2nd.

“We will continue to inspect the school throughout the work and every week thereafter to ensure we have addressed the problem. After the conclusion of this work, we will invite the Safety and Health Officer to review the work that has been completed.

“I am confident that we now have corrective measures in place to safely address and eliminate the problem and lessen the need for further disruption. The Ministry of Education is committed to work together with the Harrington Sound family to find the best way forward, so that the students, teachers and staff have safe and healthy environment to work and learn.”

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Comments (4)

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  1. And they TOTALLY renovated and practically built run down Dockyard buildings.
    UNBELIEVABLE

  2. Alvin Williams says:

    Not unbelievable for this government has clearly shown where it’s interests lies and that is not with the people of Bermuda and their children.

  3. Redamtibi says:

    Their supporters will say, actually have said, this issue is being politisised…who cares about the air the “other Bermuda” breathes right?
    They will reap what they sow. The universal truth.

  4. mm says:

    What seems to be lacking, is the failure of the Education Department, to ensure the welfare of our students, at the Harrington Sound School…..earlier this year it was the T.N.T middle school….Be thorough..cause if several students take ill or are attacked by these birds, what will you say to the parents, what kind of suffering will our students face…and further..don,t we have exams around the corner..Someone needs to monitor the condition of our public buildings—or do we have a revolving situation based on the budget, thus a quick patch up.

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