A rat problem, apparently stemming from the unsanitary conditions in and around Port-of-Spain, forced the shutdown of the Rosary Boys’ RC School early yesterday.
Next Friday, pupils of the St Rose’s Girls’ RC are also expected to have no school due to the same problem as sanitation workers have had to put down rat bait to deal with a similar problem there.
One Rosary Boys’ parent, who collected his child after school was ended early yesterday due to the problem, said he was fed up, adding rat bait was not the answer. He said he believed the rodents not only came from the neighbouring food malls but also from Charlotte Street where vegetables were left to rot in the canals.
“We need a permanent solution to this rat problem. Parents cannot be leaving their jobs all the time to pick up their children because the rat problem has been around for quite some time. Something drastic must be done,” he said.
Contacted yesterday, an officer of the Catholic Board of Management said the school had to be “heavily baited,” hence the children had to be sent home early yesterday and would have no classes today.
“They have to put down rat bait and it is heavy rat bait so the children have to be evacuated for now but it is under control for the moment,” the officer added.
She said the rat problem did not emanate from the schools but agreed they came from the neighbouring malls.
“So we would always have that problem because it is not the first time. It is something we always have to be attending to because of where the school is located and because of the build-up of garbage in the city,” she added.
Also contacted, Port-of-Spain mayor Keron Valentine said he was aware of the problem at Rosary Boys’, adding the Port-of-Spain Corporation was treating the matter as urgent.
He said the chief public health inspector was also ensuring the school was properly clean and safe before being reopened next Monday.
On the source of the problem, Valentine said it was combination of things.
“At one point in time some information was that the rats were thriving underground. They were in some of the broken mains where a lot of the food stuff gathered and the rats were feeding down there and multiplying,” Valentine said.
In an unrelated matter, a school official at the Newtown Boys’ RC School said yesterday work on the electrical problem there had almost been completed.
Parents had complained that pupils were at risk due to faulty electrical wiring at the school.
National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) Zena Ramatali yesterday urged principals to be more proactive and not wait until there was a serious problem to have it rectified.
She said school boards must also play a greater role in ensuring the cleanliness and safety of facilities, adding that oftentimes principals wait until a problem escalates, at which time they have no choice but to send pupils home.
“From the time there is one rat the situation should have been dealt with by the principal and not wait until they had to put down heavy bait. That is pure gross negligence and simply ridiculous because the children are the ones who have to suffer because their teaching time is lost and this nonsense must stop,” Ramatali said.
She said what was also needed were discussions between the school board and the mayor to find a permanent solution to the problem.
Ramatali also called on the Education Ministry to implement a policy when it came to sending children home.
SOURCE: www.guarian.co.tt (Geisha Kowlessar)
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