Education officials are assuring that “the air is clear” at the Lawrence T Gay Memorial School.
The gates of the Spooners Hill, St Michael institution reopened to students on Monday after being plagued with environmental concerns. Up to May this year, teachers, parents and students reported a pungent smell on the compound, this led to classes coming to a complete halt and students being relocated.
During a tour of the school on the first day of the new academic year, Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Kay McConney shared that after months of testing, Ministry of Health officials have yet to determine the source.
“The Ministry of Health, who has responsibility for ensuring this environment is conducive to learning, they have done tremendous amounts of tests. they have on several occasions, including last week Thursday and this morning they were also here.
“I wanted to be physically there in this environment to ensure that there were no odours; there was nothing in this environment that would cause us to take a different route. Of all the tests that have been done, they have not been able to diagnose where the problem is yet, ” explained Minister McConney.
She indicated that should concerns arise again, the Ministry had an action plan.
“We have determined that should there be any concern again raised, we will take the same kind of steps that we did before; sending the investigators to seek to find out where the problem is, make sure we have alternative accommodation for the children to ensure there is no interruption to learning even if there is a set back in the environment over which we have no control and we have not yet been able to finally diagnose the problem,” she detailed.
The education minister also revealed that the school underwent extensive refurbishment during the summer break.
“The Clarke block on the eastern side was fixed this year. There were new tiles, the handrails were strengthened and painted, new doors were installed, new frames and new flooring.
“We continue to invest in Lawrence T Gay to create the best kind of learning environment that is safe and conducive to the learning of these children,” she disclosed.
The new principal of Lawrence T Gay, Brent Blackett told media that numbers at the institution have depleted because of the environmental concerns. He stressed that efforts must now be made to improve the school’s reputation.
“We are looking to keep the doors open because we realise that there may have been an exodus because of what was happening but we are ready to go now. Everything is going well. There are no issues right now so I know the children will be coming back and the numbers back up,” Blackett said while adding that the school welcomed 46 students into reception and 20 transfers on Monday.