CAY BAY – A press release was issued from the Cabinet of the Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs, on the evacuation and closing of the Leonard Connor School in Cay Bay.
Minister Jacobs assured that the Ministries of Education, VROMI, VSA, and General Affairs (Fire Department) were working together to alleviate the situation. Meetings have been ongoing since October 19, when the problem initially became evident and was brought to Minister Jacobs’s attention.
Students and staff began to suffer health issues, due to the air quality in the area. Testing began for a period of 6 days, to ascertain where the problem was coming from, whereby GEBE and SOL were both involved.
On Monday, October 31, classes at Leonard Connor were suspended and students and staff were sent home. On November 1, Minister Jacobs visited the school to determine the condition and to inform staff on the role of Government in such situation.
The air pollution has been a problem for some time, however, over the past few months has gradually gotten worse. “GEBE explained that they [have been doing] different things and some incinerator was being used and that they would terminate the use of that. We are looking for the cooperation with GEBE where that is concerned,” Minister Jacobs said.
There are many other industrial companies in the area of Cay Bay, including the laundry, SOL gas company, and GEBE, therefore testing of the air in the area will continue to take place on a higher level to determine the various gasses. One gas, which may be harmful, was detected in the, on the school’s playground, and in classrooms where windows were open.
“Based on the measurements that have been measured over the past days, they were not to the extent where it’s alarming for people of normal health,” Minister Jacobs added.
The gas detected, however, can have an effect on persons suffering from respiratory issues. Some staff members of the school, who do not suffer from respiratory issues, began to experience headaches and respiratory ailments upon arrival on the school premises.
Minister Jacobs reiterated that the pollution is not a constant threat in the area, and that with wind changes, the smoke cloud would usually come and go. Government, however, will have to commission an independent study in the interest of public health.
Solutions were brought forward to the teachers in a meeting – having heavy-duty cleaning done of the classroom to alleviate the settled dust; having protective masks in the event of a air pollution threat; and installation of air-conditioning in the classrooms.
Minister Jacobs reiterated that this situation is a priority to government. The health and wellness of the students, staff and residents in the area are of great importance.