Teachers of the Corinth Secondary School have demanded the demolition of a mold and termite infested building of their school, as they staged a sickout on Tuesday, June 03.
Today’s move follows a meeting between teachers and their unions on Monday. Although government hired a company on Friday to cleanup the infected building, teachers are still concerned about their safety and that of students.
Their main concern is that debris reportedly left on the building’s floor during the cleanup exercise could be a health threat.
Speaking to media on Tuesday (June 3) Principal Willard Andrew said the sickout may continue on Wednesday.
He confirmed that a company, hired by the Ministry of Education, was contracted to kill the mold and conduct demolishing works on the building on Friday. That company, during that operation dismantled the ceilings and parts of the classrooms but reportedly left a large quantity of debris on the floor.
According to Andrew, when teachers reported to work on Monday morning and saw the debris, they felt that the environment looked even unhealthier.
Andrew said the intention is to dismiss all students today and have the demolishing company continue their work at the school from 4 p.m.
He informed that samples of the mold have been sent to a laboratory for testing at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Miami. This is to ascertain the type of mold which exists on the premises. Results are expected by the end of this week. According to him, there are three types of mold – harmless, allergenic and toxic.
Andrew noted that experts have indicated to him that the skin irritations experienced at the school are due to the termite droppings. These are found in various parts of the school compound and are possibly also moved around in the wind.
He assured that the Ministry of Education is doing all it can to address the matter. He further said that the new shift system is working “pretty well.”
According to Zimmetry Environmental, a U.S-based company that does environmentally-related consultations, molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxic substances known as mycotoxins. Skin irritations can occur when there are allergic reactions to mold. These are quite common and can be immediate or delayed.
A company press release states that long periods of exposure to the mold can cause non-sensitive individuals to become sensitive to it and that repeated exposures also have the potential to increase sensitivity. According to the company, asthma attacks could be triggered by mold infestations.
In early May, the school was closed for a few days to be fumigated and power washed, after students and teachers complained of itchiness, bump and boils on their skin. The institution was reopened a few days after but the complaints continued. This eventually resulted in the entire wing being shut down later in late May.
Due to this, the school’s administration instituted a new shift system to accommodate students who were displaced by the closure. Under that arrangement, students in Forms 1-3 will attend school from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. while the third and fourth forms will report at 12:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
It is reported that at least two or three more high schools on the island are experiencing termite and mold infestations.