Teachers at Point Hill Leased Primary and Junior High School in St Catherine removed students from classrooms this morning amid a looming health crisis, which results from the worsening termite infestation of virtually the entire school building.
Teachers and students are falling ill purportedly as a result of the infestation.
Representative of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) at the school, Dietre Mckoy, said teachers will ‘take their action a notch up’ if the Ministry of Education remains nonchalant despite the numerous complaints it has received.
“We came to school in good faith to do our job today (January 7), but the teachers are not comfortable and I doubt the children are comfortable… We are very discouraged to know that nothing happened over the holiday [to remedy the situation],” she said.
Mckoy, who has been teaching at the school for a decade, stated that termites have been infesting the school buildings for years, but the situation has worsened significantly.
“We have evidence of what we call chi-chi droppings all over the classroom floor, coming from some of the furniture. Basically all the wooden furniture that we have here are of no use to us. We also have evidence of illnesses that may be attributed to the termite infestation.
“The entire office section of the school is infested. The entire learning section of the school is infested – including all classrooms and all the resource rooms,” added Mckoy.
She further told The Beacon that the school’s principal, Shernette Powell, has done all within her power to have the matter addressed.
Powell, in the meantime, said: “Since I came here [at Point Hill Leased Primary and Junior High] for the past two years I have been trying to get the roof top sorted out. However, it has been an uphill climb… The teachers want to see the Ministry coming in now to rectify the situation; I really empathize with my teachers.”
Powell also noted that she has written various letters and sent photo evidence of the problem to the Ministry of Education.
“We were told that work would have commenced in September [last year] in different tranches. However, to date, nothing has happened,” the principal further said, while sharing the view that both teachers and students have fallen ill allegedly as a result of the termite infestation.
She also stated that the Chief Education Officer in the Ministry, Dr Grace McLean, this morning, promised to dispatch a team to start addressing the problem today.
The principal and teachers are however adamant that they have had enough broken promises; they now need nothing less than action.
Point Hill Leased Primary and Junior High School, which is located in the constituency of health minister Dr Christopher Tufton, has nearly 300 students on roll and a staff of 30.
By Horace Mills, Journalist