The Ministry of Education is ensuring that the staff and students of the Cayon High School return to a clean and safe environment for the 2019-20 academic year, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, the Honourable Shawn Richards, said during a sitting of parliament Tuesday.

The deputy prime minister reported that during the summer vacation the entire school was fumigated to treat termite infested spaces at the school. This was in conjunction with the removal of mold in the biology and chemistry labs. The science labs were cleaned, cupboards removed and subsequently retesting has taken place.

“All spaces are being power-washed and sprayed with chemicals that will remove any final trace of mold infestation,” he said, adding a professional cleaning company is contracted to clean the entire school..

As a result of the extensive cleaning, the Ministry of Education conducted a meeting with the staff of the school Aug. 29 at the ICCS auditorium to discuss the initial results of the mold problem.

“At 4:30 p.m. on that same day, officials from the Ministry of Education met with the parents and guardians of students attending the school,” reported the deputy prime minister. “The audiences at both meetings received the salient information from the first tests carried out by the Bureau of Standards. Both audiences received the commitment of the Ministry of Education that the Cayon High School will be declared safe before teachers and students are allowed to reoccupy the space at this institution.”

Reopening of the Cayon High School for the 2019-20 school year has thus been delayed as the Ministry of Education completes the cleaning.

“The Ministry of Education therefore expresses its profound thanks to the principal, staff and the students of the Cayon High School for their patience, understanding and resilience demonstrated during this very trying time in the life of the institution. The Ministry of Education also apologizes to all for the inconvenience caused,” said Deputy Prime Minister Richards.   

Ministry of Education Acts Swiftly to Safeguard Health and Wellbeing of Students, Faculty

The health and wellbeing of the staff and students at the Cayon High School are of the utmost priority of the Government of National Unity, the deputy prime minister assured, the Ministry of Education has thus worked “swiftly and decisively” to address a mold problem that was recently reported by the school.

“The test carried out by the Bureau of Standards confirmed that mold was present in the science labs,” he reported. “As a matter of fact, the report, Mr. Speaker, stated that only the two labs, which are the biology lab and a chemistry lab, had an amount of mold that was in excess of what would be considered to be acceptable.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richards said that the report also confirmed that the levels of mold found were not significantly high. The science labs were cleaned, cupboards removed and subsequently retesting has taken place.

The Ministry of Education convened numerous meetings with the staff of the Cayon High School to give updates on what steps were taken to address the presence of mold in the science labs, he said..

“The concerns of the teachers were addressed; many of their suggestions were taken into consideration in determining the way forward,” he said. “As a result of discussions with the teachers, other spaces on the school’s campus were tested. The results of these tests would be made available on receipt.”

The deputy prime minister stated that the test results would normally have already been received, however, due to Hurricane Dorian being in the vicinity of the island last week, there was difficulty sending out the samples via FedEx or DHL.

“The samples, however, have since been sent,” he said. “As you might be aware yesterday was a holiday in the U.S., so we are hoping that between today and tomorrow we will have the results of the recent tests, which were done at the Cayon High School.”