Monday 24 February, 2020

Garcia: Edinburgh school reopened, no contention with teachers exist

Education Minister Anthony Garcia has refuted news reports that a rift exists between his line Ministry and teachers of the Edinburgh Government Primary School on whether the institution is fit for reopening.

This follows a story by the Trinidad and Tobago Express titled ‘When is my child going back?’ which noted that there was contention between the two parties.

In response to the article that was published on Friday, the Ministry of Education (MoE) issued a statement which said the Occupational Safety and Health Authority and Agency (OSHA) found the school fit to be reopened and that teachers’ refusal to work was unjustified. 

It also noted that OSHA Inspectors visited the school on several occasions late last year to investigate the claims made by teachers of pigeon droppings as well as eye, skin and respiratory ailments and poor air quality on the compound. 

Regarding the pigeon droppings, officers from the Public Health Inspectorate visited the school on November 12, 2019 and conducted an inspection of the compound and found no evidence. The release added that the nylon, wire mesh pigeon proofing which was installed throughout the internal and external perimeter of the school, prevented the pigeons from gaining access to the compound and roosting in the eaves, cantilevers and on the spotlights. The MoE said a report was later issued stating that the school was fit for occupation.

As for the other complaints that teachers had been experiencing skin, eye and respiratory ailments, OSHA reportedly ruled that the teachers’ complaints were unjustified under Section 15 of the OSH Act. The agency also found that air quality was satisfactory as the school’s buildings were sanitised and sterilised by Century 21 Janitorial Services and Rentokil Initial (Trinidad) Limited on October 22, 2019 and in November, 2019.

“OSHA officials concluded that in keeping with Section 15 of the OSHA Act, there was no serious and imminent danger to the teachers’ health and therefore their complaints were unjustified,” the release said.

The MoE went on to note that extensive works were completed in the school such as the removal and installation of new sections of ceiling, repairs and sealing to the galvanise roof and the replacement of discoloured bathroom tiles in the students’ washrooms.

Teachers received a copy of the OSHA report this week which facilitated the reopening of school. A total of 27 out of 29 teachers reported for duty this Friday with the school operating at full capacity.

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