Parents and Regional officials of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) are calling on the Education Ministry to act swiftly in quarantining and removing the cancerous material asbestos that was rediscovered at the Christianburg Wismar Secondary School (CWSS).
Regional Chairman Renis Morian has indicated that officials recently received reports from parents while conducting checks on the school’s readiness for reopening, as the asbestos had been discovered in the ceiling of the school by contractors who were conducting repairs.
“This is a great problem for us because school is reopening on Monday… I am calling on the Ministry of Education to move urgently. This is disaster risk mitigation right now and we need to move now to remove this asbestos before Monday… These are the findings of the parents in this community and it’s valid and this matter needs to be addressed,” Morian stressed.
He added that there might be a few days delay for the school’s reopening when asbestos is removed since the school would have to be ventilated.
He pointed out, however, that this should not be considered a form of strike action but a genuine cause for concern. The Regional Chairman further related that officials are aware that in 2001 to 2002, a contract was handed out for the removal of asbestos from inside the school; however, he noted that it appears as though some had been hidden given the way they were placed. “Now that a new contractor is doing works, those things are being discovered… Our interest is the health of our children and teachers…,” the Regional Chairman said, as he promised to make contact with several education officials.
Meanwhile, Region 10 Education Committee Chairman Denise Belgrave confirmed that based on a visit to the school, there is indeed the presence of asbestos as she noted that it is important to look at the health of students and teachers. She also thanked parents for bringing the issue to the attention of officials.
“We are trusting that the relevant authorities will give us that time so that we can rectify this issue and have school sessions continue on a regular basis,” Belgrave said. Officials are presently in the process of visiting schools across Linden to ensure that they’re ready for next week’s reopening.
The removal of asbestos must be done with great care due to the toxic properties of this substance. Asbestos removal is a very dangerous and expensive undertaking. Locally, very few companies have the capacity for proper removal of this hazardous substance.