The St. Ignatius Secondary School in Lethem, Region Nine has closed its doors for three days because of unhealthy sanitary facilities, Head teacher Yvette Archer told the News Room via telephone on Wednesday.
For the past three weeks, the school has been without working sanitary facilities with the toilets out of order.
In a letter dated June 4, the head teacher wrote to the Deputy Education Officer, Ingrid Trotman, detailing the unsanitary situation at the school and sought permission for closure.
Trotman replied: “Request granted to suspend classes for three days. However, kindly ensure that plans are carried out as arranged and the dorms children are properly supervised.”
According to the letter the Environmental Health Officer, Wanita Jerrick visited the school and indicated that students could be exposed to Hepatitis. The head teacher said one of the sanitary blocks has been out of use since the last school term.
“One of it is locked and the one on the eastern end is not in a condition that is healthy or hygienic for the children and teachers, so a decision was taken that the block be closed or rather that the children be sent home,” the Head teacher said.
The letter also stated that the Regional Executive Officer, Carl Parker, was contacted about the sanitation issue at the school. The Clerks of Work also visited the school to assess the situation and according to the letter, “he indicated that he will need time to get up materials to fix the facilities.”
The school opted to close because they believe the situation will get worse if the school remains open.
“The school has 992 children and approximately 45 teachers that will be there on a daily basis,” the Head teacher said.
The Head teacher noted that the school is overcrowded and has the capacity to hold about 450 persons.
While the school will be closed for three days, Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) students are still allowed to write exams.
“The CSEC students are not affected and the teachers are at school also,” the Head teacher said.
The Head teacher however noted that the school does not have enough cleaners. In addition, she did not deny that some students are not adhering to the relevant sanitation practices.
“That can be a part of it. I mean anywhere you go you you would have that a situation like that, even with adults,” the Head teacher said.