After eight (8) weeks of summer vacation prior to the scheduled opening of schools this past Monday September 2nd, the Cayon High School (CHS) has been shutdown due to excess mold and termite infestation at the learning institution. The CHS which opened its doors in 1971 to serve the learning needs of the people from Keys Village down to Parsons Village has never in its 47 year history suffered such calamity.
Over the past two school years (2017 – 2019), teachers and students at the school have complained incessantly about dizziness, wheezing and other symptoms associated with mold infestation. Teachers at the school have charged that the Ministry of Education led by Hon.Shawn Richards has been putting partisan politics above their health. Teachers have reported that their complaints to the Ministry of Education, the Permanent Secretary and the Minister of Education have been met with rebuff and threats to suspend them. One teacher on condition of anonymity stated that Ministry Officials told them that they would not sit by idly and allow a few teachers to disrupt the school and bring condemnation on the government.
As a result, teachers eventually planned a strike as soon as school re-opened. Only at that point did the Ministry of Education intervene to test labs and classroom spaces. On the conclusion of the laboratory tests done by the Bureau of Standards, high levels of mold infestation were confirmed. Additionally, high levels of termite infestation were discovered in several areas of the school.
What many teachers found unacceptable was the flagrant attitude of denial and arrogance displayed by the government and the fact that they returned to school at the beginning of a brand new school term with absolutely nothing done during the vacation period to address the issues. Hence, at the start of the school year 2019 – 2020, teachers and student of the Cayon High School have been sent home until more mold and contamination tests are completed, prompting the Minister of Education to make that statement in National Assembly which convened on September 3, 2019.