BLOCK B of the Gasparillo Secondary School was closed indefinitely for repairs on Wednesday, leaving 18 classrooms out of use.
As a result, students who occupied those classrooms must now attend school on a rotational basis.
This is the same block Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, in the Parliament last Friday, said had been repaired, in response to a query by Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes.
Now Haynes is calling on Gadsby-Dolly to urgently address the concerns surrounding the school’s infrastructure.
She said it was one of three schools in her constituency experiencing problems.
Parents have been keeping students away from the Caratal Sacred Heart RC School owing to poor road infrastructure, while Happy Hill Hindu School remains closed to complete repairs.
Last Friday, the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the Gasparillo Secondary and Sacred Heart RC held separate protests for urgent building and road repairs.
Gasprillo PTA complained of the extent of the infrastructural decay and questioned why the school was opened when it posed a risk to the health and safety of its occupants.
Haynes visited the school during the protest and said she saw some of the infrastructural decline of the buildings.
In Parliament later that day, she sought an update from Gadsby-Dolly, who declared the school was not showing any sign of being structurally compromised.
“Specifically, the minister indicated that critical ceiling and roof works in Block B were completed, while additional repairs to the area are still outstanding.”
Haynes said she also received multiple reports from anxious parents who confirmed the repairs had not been completed, contrary to Gadsby-Dolly’s assurance.
Haynes said the outstanding repairs required Block B to be closed, and on Wednesday, parents were informed of its indefinite closure.
“Not only was it disingenuous, but it was also reckless on the part of the Ministry of Education (MoE) to reopen a school in need of such extensive repairs just so that they could say the school was opened at the start of the school year.
“If the school is not fit for purpose, it should not be opened to students.
"Is saving face worth risking students’ safety?”
Haynes said the ad-hoc building closures placed teachers, students, and parents under unnecessary stress.
“Households now have to contend with last-minute child supervision and school transportation adjustments and the associated costs.
“This could have all been avoided had the MoE addressed the concerns raised by stakeholders over recent years and properly communicated how and when repair works would proceed.”
She also called for the ministry to focus its attention on Happy Hill Hindu School, which remains closed.
“Despite the many millions being allocated to school repairs, the management of school infrastructure has suffered greatly under this PNM government.
“In addition to yearly July/August vacations, there was also an extended period of school closure during the pandemic lockdown at which time more schools in need of extensive repair could have been addressed.”
She said there is no justifiable reason why so many schools today are in a state of disrepair and pose threats to student safety.
Haynes also claimed students had been injured and, in extreme cases, schools invaded by criminal elements owing to poor infrastructure. She called on the ministry to display more urgency and compassion in treating with the issue.
“School infrastructure is critical to student safety and the MoE’s approach must reflect greater care and commitment to this basic aspect of their mandate.”