St Agnes Primary School students of grade levels One to Three will be relocated for the upcoming term to the St Sidwell’s, St Ambrose, Thomas Moore and Comenius primary schools, as the Education Ministry moves to have the school building demolished and rebuilt in time for the start of the new school year in September.
This information was related to a classroom full of parents and guardians yesterday at a meeting held at the St Angela’s Primary School, where Principal Education Officer (ag) Immanuel Bridgewater stated that the decision to move the students was a matter of urgency as the building, being more than 100 years old, was in a state of disrepair.
After the meeting, Bridgewater explained to Stabroek News that there had been several incidents where roofing sheets and windows fell and caused damage to vehicles and injured passers-by. He further stated that the pins holding together the joints of the building had rotted and so the entire building was “loose.”
The new building, Bridgewater told parents, is expected to be completed by August in time for the September term, and will provide their children with a more spacious and comfortable environment, equipped with better facilities and reduced risk of flooding.
He said that the students of the St Rose’s High School that also occupied the building have already been relocated to another section of the school.
Bridgewater had stated that work was initially scheduled to begin on the building on Tuesday, but that approval was only granted from the church, which owns the property, on Wednesday. Acknowledging that the meeting was called at short notice, he said that they decided to hold the meeting with the parents so that they could “work hand in hand [with the ministry] to resolve this matter.”
Grumblings arose from the audience regarding the timing of the meeting, just days before the new school term begins.
Some noted that although the meeting was dressed as a consultation, regardless of what parents stated a decision had already been made by the ministry and they were only being informed.
While some seemed against the choices laid out for one reason or another and offered alternatives, other parents did not seem to mind, and the air became charged as tempers flared, fueled by opposing views.
A few parents stated that they had known a move like this was in the pipelines and so they were not quite surprised at the decision.
Bridgewater threw out a “proposal” that students be relocated to the St Ambrose Primary, St Sidwell’s Primary, Thomas Moore Primary and Comenius Primary schools, with the Grade Three students being split up. At this point in time, mumbling from the audience became evident, and grew even louder when Bridgewater announced that if parents wanted the children to be kept together they could all be accommodated at the Enterprise Primary School. He emphasized that this was not an option he was keen on taking, with distance being one factor.
By the end of the meeting, however, it was set in stone. The Grade One students would be accommodated at St Sidwell’s Primary, the second graders at the Thomas Moore Primary, and the four third grade classes would be compressed into three classes and split between the St Ambrose Primary School and Comenius Primary, with two of those classes being assigned to the former and one to the latter.
In response to a question raised by a parent as to what should be done in the case that they have two children attending the school at different levels, it was related that the ministry can accommodate a transfer for the other child to whichever school their sibling was placed.
The parents were reassured that at the end of the period they could be transferred back again. It was noted that transfers could also be facilitated to schools closer to home if parents so desire.
Adrian Eljin, District Education Officer with responsibility for primary schools, reminded the parents that regardless of where their children are relocated, their teachers would be accompanying them, and emphasized that the move would only be for one term.
He stated that in comparison to the space where they are being taught currently, the places they have identified for them to be moved are vast improvements, and challenged that they, along with the teachers, the parents take a trip to visit the schools.