Teachers at San Fernando Girls' Anglican Primary School walked off the job yesterday because of a pigeon infestation. The teachers walked out of their classrooms in protest after nine staffers reportedly fell ill because of unsanitary conditions at the school, on Pouchet Street, San Fernando. Parents received messages from the school's administrative staff to pick up their children at noon yesterday.
Some parents said they were not given a reason for the early dismissal. They were told that they would be notified when they could bring the children back to school. A parent said: "When I went to the school there were no teachers, and all the children were in their classrooms. I tried to talk to the principal. She said she does not know what is going on and that they will call us."
President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Roustan Job, confirmed that teachers walked off the job in protest. "Nine teachers became ill with respiratory problems because of the pigeons," he said. "The teachers decided not to return to the classrooms until the compound is cleaned and sanitised...It is a temporary measure."
Parents were leaving with their children from the school compound yesterday. One of the students, when asked why she had to leave school early, said: "Miss said do not tell anybody anything if they ask about the school." Job said the teachers decided to "remove themselves from the situation at least today (yesterday)." Another parent said she was disturbed by the situation because no one was telling parents what was going to happen with the children.
"I was on my way to work when my husband called me and tell me go and pick up my daughter," she said. "When I get here, only the principal was in the office and parents were picking up their children." Job said the teachers would not return to the school until it was power-washed, cleaned and sanitised. He said teachers had complained that pigeons were seen on the roof and in holes in the ceiling. Job said the roof should be replaced if necessary so the school would be up and running and return to a state of normality after the Easter vacation.
Corporate communications manager of the Ministry of Education Yolanda Morales-Carvalho said the ministry was aware of the problem. "We have already activated all the state agencies," she said.