FEAR is now on the minds of parents of students attending the St Paul’s Anglican School in San Fernando, as their main concern now is safety when their children return to classes.
Parents are saying they need the assurance from the Education Ministry that the school would be fit to accommodate their children even after repair work is completed.
The school is among several others which suffered structural damage during the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked TT on August 21. The school will remain closed today.
Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) president, Anslem Remy, told Newsday yesterday that parents are worried about the condition of the school. The damage to the school, he said, includes cracks on the walls of classrooms, staircases and ceilings. “No one can predict an earthquake but if, God forbids, another earthquake is to hit and these areas have already been compromised, what is going to happen? Can the structure withstand another earthquake?”
The school has a population of over 500 students.
Remy said the principal has been in constant communication with him and other PTA executives, keeping them abreast of the situation.
He said, after the earthquake the principal contacted the relevant authorities and an engineer from the San Fernando City Corporation visited the school and did an assessment and recommended that the school be closed until repair work is completed.
Remy said the principal has since forwarded the necessary correspondence to the Education Ministry and is awaiting feedback.
But in the interim, he said the PTA and school officials would meet tomorrow to discuss plans to move forward. “We don’t know when this repair work would be completed, and we don’t know how long our children would be kept home. Our standard five students are the ones who would be affected the most as they have exams just now.”
Remy said emails have been sent to parents informing them about the situation.
“We don’t know if they may cordon off the affected areas and relocate the students to a safe area where classes could be conducted. All the ministry is saying is that the school would be closed on Monday and what next? These repairs would take some time and there is no point in rushing back into a school that is unsafe.”
At a press conference on Saturday, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said he could not say what the cost of repair work to the affected schools would be as assessments were still being done. He said a report was also taken to Cabinet detailing the damage assessed by the structural engineers.