Parents balk at being asked to buy paper towels and soap
When primary school students head back to school on Tuesday, their school bags will be packed with rolls of paper towels, boxes of Ziploc bags in various sizes, baby wipes, plastic aprons, sanitizer and soaps.
“I was astonished at the amount of things I had to buy,” said Tyreece Whittaker’s mom Sherese Levy on her way to reception orientation at Bodden Town Primary School on Monday.
“Besides uniforms, shoes, school books, crayons and pencils, the school also asked me to provide eight glue sticks, whiteboard markers, several erasers, Lysol wipes, hat and much more,” she said.
Other parents at the school’s orientation also wondered what the huge list was about.
“It is hard times. Why do they need everything at one time? It is kind of difficult at this time,” said Nolan Duarte, heading to reception with his child.
Parent Millicent Britton had her own approach. “Ziploc bags, baby wipes, binders and paper towels – I wondered about that. I did not buy any of that stuff. I bought the regular school supplies of markers, glue, pencils, books, bags and uniforms,” she said.
Bodden Town Primary’s principal June Elliott said she did not realize the list had things like paper towels and soaps, which she said are provided by cleaners.
“I really did not double-check the list after it was revised, but we will not turn the children away if the parents cannot afford to bring the items,” Ms. Elliot said. “The items do help throughout the year when children have accidents, to wipe door handles and clean messes, and it is nice to have the extra around to wipe runny noses.”
She said teachers use the Ziploc bags to store supplies for the students.
According to the principal, teachers decided for the school year what will be on the list. “If paper towels were on the list, it might have been because they were not supplied frequently enough last year by suppliers and they ran out, so they might have thought they had to put it on the list to get parents to help out. Paper towels are something parents should not be supplying and should not have been on the list,” Ms. Elliott said.
She also said strict budget cuts within government also has the school watching its budget.
While many of the parents were frowning at picking up the bill for some of the items, it seems that supermarkets are catching on to the schools’ lists and are stocking such items as paper towels, soap and baby wipes next to composition books and pencils.
Speaking with the parents and students on Monday, Ms. Elliott said it did not make sense if parents were unhappy to sit at home and complain, but to come to the school to talk to the teachers. “If a child does not bring the required items to school, it does not mean they would be turned away,” said Ms. Elliott.
“There is not much in the way of supplies on the list because we do have supplies for students. It is more a list of toiletries for the students that the school does not provide,” said Kim Litrico, deputy principal of the Bodden Town Primary School.
“Some of the stuff is to keep the place clean and in the case of accidents,” she said, explaining why parents were given the list. “If parents cannot afford most of the stuff, they do not have to worry about it,” she added.
According to Ms. Litrico, government does not provide these items. “They do not buy Ziploc bags and we do not get it from the cleaning company, so we ask parents to buy it because it is something that is need in the classrooms.
“The supplies are sectioned out so that each child can have their own Ziploc bag with crayons pencils and such things, and something to put clothes in when they have an accident. The paper towel is for when the children have an accident to clean it up,” she said.
Ms. Litrico said they had not tried asking some of the supermarkets to donate such items, but it was something they could explore.
At George Town Primary school, office worker Fay Taylor said their school list for reception did not have items such as paper towels and Ziploc bags.