NATIONAL Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly assured members of the House of Representatives on Friday that steps are being taken to ensure the safety of students and teachers at Rose Hill RC Primary School in Laventille after a shooting incident near the school on Monday.
Responding to a question from Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, Hinds told MPs that he visited the school on Thursday along with members of the police service and Defence Force.
He said, "The actual shooting incident took place about 200 metres from the school."
School administrators, Hinds continued, told him in the presence of the police that "they were satisfied that at no stage in that event, were the children at peril, or any physical harm."
He accepted that the sound of gunfire was traumatising and troubling for everyone.
Hinds said the school is overseen by the Catholic School Board and the board has ensured that the students have been taught certain safety practices over the years.
"The children reacted accordingly."
Moonilal asked Hinds if he was the author of a Facebook post which claimed that a video which showed students lying on the floor of their classroom while gunshots were heard, was misleading and the students "were not in any imminent danger."
Hinds did not answer the question.
He said the police will increase the number of static patrols in the area around the school.
"In other words, they remain on that and surrounding locations far more permanently."
Hinds said the police will also offer counselling sessions for staff and students.
"I am satisfied that the police are fully aware of the goings on in that area and they have identified the technical solutions they propose to put in place to put a more safe and comfortable environment for the staff and the students."
Moonilal asked if similar approaches would be taken in other parts of TT which face similar challenges.
Hinds said, "Most certainly and I can emphasise as well that one of the major planks in the police's effort in this matter and more generally, is the question of firearm retrieval."
He reiterated that law enforcement agencies continue to grapple with efforts to take illegal firearms "out of the hands of the criminals and let them join the 7,000 (firearms) that we already have in hand for destruction after the legal processes of arrest and charge and conviction of those (people) who were found in possession of them."
Responding to a question from Naparima MP Rodney Charles, Gadsby-Dolly described the incident as most traumatic. Her ministry will be providing support for students and teachers at the school.
She said the school has a guidance counsellor and a "dedicated school social worker has been deployed (at the school) for the next six weeks to offer counselling to the students."
The ministry's students support division will meet with the parents of students to offer them "focused support in trauma management." Gadsby-Dolly said the ministry's employee assistance programme has been offering support to teachers at the school since Monday.
"The school is carded to resume physical operations next Wednesday with the TT Police Service providing sustained presence for the duration of school days for a period to be determined.