Debris and broken playground equipment is being cleared and air quality tests carried out at the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay following complaints from parents, education officials said this week.

Images of broken swings, slides and a water fountain were posted on Facebook last week by parent Sarah Orrett, who is listed on the school’s website as vice president of the Parent Teacher Association. Ms. Orrett also raised concerns that there may be mold in some classrooms, suggesting it was making children sick.

Pictures posted on Facebook by a concerned parent prompted action.
Pictures posted on Facebook by a concerned parent prompted action.

A petition calling for “adequate staffing, an environmentally safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff” was also launched and had garnered 34 signatures at press time Tuesday.

In a statement Monday evening, the Department of Education Services said school principal Paul Samuel had met with the PTA vice president to discuss the concerns. It said the broken equipment was being removed while two classrooms, including the air conditioning systems, had been deep cleaned and would undergo air quality tests following the concerns about mold.

“The pictures placed on social media this past weekend show specific items which we will address. However, they do not represent the general state of the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School campus or classrooms,” the statement said.

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Ms. Orrett wrote in a post alongside pictures appearing to show areas of damp and damage to classroom walls, as well as dilapidated playground equipment, that the conditions were “deplorable.” She said her son suffered from ill health because of damp and mold at the school.

She could not be reached for further comment yesterday.

Fellow parent and former PTA member Shena Ebanks said she was glad the issue had been brought to light and was now being dealt with.

“I am in support of the fact that steps are now being taken to get the situation rectified,” she said, “but I am disheartened that a parent had to speak out this loudly for it to happen.

Damaged playground equipment at the school was being removed this week.
Damaged playground equipment at the school was being removed this week.

“I don’t care whose fault it is. I am willing to come out and help or fundraise or do whatever it takes to fix it. We need to come together and fix the problems.”

The Department of Education Services said it would be reviewing the situation and addressing the needs. It said it had begun to take action on Sunday.

“The first step is the removal of debris and the broken playground equipment. Replacement equipment is being sourced and further meetings are planned with the principal to establish timelines for addressing problems in the short term,” it said in its statement.

The department said it takes any suspicions of mold in school seriously and carries out specialized testing to confirm the existence of mold, when necessary.

The statement did not explain why the issues had not been identified or addressed over the summer break.

“Given the wear and tear associated with operating multiple buildings for use by hundreds of students, teachers, and the wider community, one can imagine that the maintenance needs at schools are constant and voluminous,” the statement read.

It added, “We can safely say that generally all of our schools are kept in good condition.”

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