General Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Peter Wilson told Newsday the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL) repainted the school and teachers and students felt nauseous.
“When the teachers arrived this morning (yesterday) the fumes were overwhelming and teachers had to leave the compound due to threat to their own health and safety. The fumes were causing irritation to both the teachers and the students especially to those with respiratory problems.”
A school source said parents were called in to take their children home. By 12 noon, there were just four students left at the school, the source said.
Wilson said in addition to the painting, other repair works were carried out at the school but the clean-up was not completed.
“If the situation remains the same today then teachers would again have to remove themselves,” he said.
President of the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) Zena Ramatali said Maloney Government Primary had other problems which must be addressed.
“Apart from the teachers walking out, I know there are many other issues plaguing the school and they need to be investigated,” she said.
Corporate communications manager of EFCL Sherry McMillan said a $1.2 million contract was awarded to a company to conduct repair works which were completed, and the site was cleaned up.
These works included painting which was completed last Friday, New Year’s Day.
“We used low odour paints. The painting was completed on Friday so that there was a two-day period before school opened,” she said.
She said the project coordinator was at the school yesterday and there were complaints that there was an odour coming from the door frames of the toilets.
“I don’t know how much of an odour there was and at around 10.30 am parents took their children home, I don’t have any information on what will happen tomorrow (today).”
In addition to painting, there was also the replacement of broken louvres, the replacement of faulty doors and locks, an upgrade of air-condition units in the principal’s office and computer room, construction of a fence, sanitising of toilets and an upgrade of electrical fixtures and fallen ceilings.