The students and pupils of the Greiggs Primary School had their school day cut short today, Tuesday, after portable toilets that were used by the New Democratic Party (NDP) at their convention last Sunday were left on the school’s compound.
Head teacher of the school Margaret Lewis-Jackson told SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday that the stench from the portable toilets was unbearable and she had to contact the Ministry of Education about the issue and permission was given to dismiss school.
“They had a convention on Sunday and the portable toilets are still there, so we tried to cope with the stench, but by 12’o clock we could not stand it any longer and teachers were on my back to do something about it, and the children were saying the toilets were too stink and they wanted to leave,” said Lewis-Jackson.
“We contacted parents to get their children for their own safety in terms of health and physical safety, so parents came and the bigger ones assisted the younger ones to get home,” explained the head teacher who noted that the request to use the school was made by the NDP’s South Central Windward caretaker Israel Bruce, and that request was followed up in writing by a letter from the NDP’s General Secretary Tyrone James.
“I had no objection because they promised they would clean up and make sure the school was in a state of readiness after the convention, so I granted them permission with the expectation that it would be good,” commented Lewis-Jackson who added that she is rethinking the idea of sanctioning private entities using the school for these sorts of functions during the school season.
“I learnt a lesson that something of that nature is better during the vacation time and not school time. I contacted the persons in charge of the toilets and a lady promised they will move them in the wee hours of Wednesday morning around 3 or 4, because they can’t be moved today, so I am hoping that the stench leaves when school is ready to open.
“I am disappointed because I really did not anticipate this sort of impact. I would have thought maybe a cleaning issue, but that portable toilet being there is unacceptable,” stated the educator.
When contacted, the NDP’s General Secretary Tyrone James said he was sorry the toilets created an issue. He said he was not aware that the school had to be closed because of the portables.
“We had two portable toilets from a company and I thought they had picked them up and I am just being alerted that they did not pick them up and they will pick them up tonight,” said James.
“It is very unfortunate if that was the case because that was not intended. I did not know the school was closed. Nobody called me or anything,” James told SEARCHLIGHT while adding that he thought the toilets would have been moved the same night after the convention.
He added that he would make sure they were removed.
The toilets were placed at the entrance of the school and a resident of the area said that the stench is being blown back onto the school compound because of the direction in which the wind blows.
Area representative Saboto Caesar commented, saying parents were upset about the issue and wondering if to send their children to school on Wednesday.
“I am extremely annoyed that students had to lose hours of classes because of the negligence of grown people,” said Caesar.
An executive member of the NDP told SEARCHLIGHT that the portable toilets were eventually removed at about 5 pm on Tuesday. He provided photographs (see photo below) to show that they were no longer in place.
[UPDATED at 7:39 pm on Tuesday to reflect that the toilets were removed late on Tuesday afternoon.]