The St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) says it has advised teachers of the Canouan Government School to report for duty but to keep away from the building because it has been declared structurally unsafe, and as a result, it jeopardizes the safety of the occupants.
Parents or students attending the school have been apprised of the decision, the Union said in a statement on Wednesday after visiting the school.
Large cracks have appeared in the building and some teachers had moved their classes to outside, including under a mango tree.
Last week that a team of engineers from BRAGSA conducted a structural assessment of the school, the second team to travel to the School, the Ministry of Education said.
The primary goal of the assessment was to determine if the school was at risk of imminent collapse and if the Grade 5/6 area can be utilized as classrooms by teachers and students.
“Under regular use/attrition, there are no major signs of failure which indicate that the School is in immediate threat of collapse,” the Ministry said.
It said the computer room shows signs of structural cracks and other cracking and as a result it has been suggested to the principal that this room be put out of use until further advised.
“At this moment there is no major risk to students and personnel carrying out their classroom activities in the Grade 5 or 6 areas,” the Ministry noted.
The Teachers’ Union said a team from the union along with an engineer and contractor held a consultation with teachers at the school on Wednesday.
“The experts indicate that ‘in the grade 1 classroom the walls are separating from the foundation and the possibility of a collapse is very real.’ They further state that ‘in grades 5 and 6, the walls are very unstable and are separating from the foundation’,” the union said in its statement.
It said the engineer noted with great concern that patching is not enough to fix the problems since they are structural ones.
“Our team observed that outside close to the water tank, the walls are unstable and are detaching, a situation the engineer describes as ‘a catastrophe waiting to happen.’ The cracks are also showing that the foundation is being removed and walls are bursting. The Computer Lab is another potential disaster as there are cracks and bursts and new cracks appearing. According to the engineer, ‘New cracks at the back of the school indicate that there is movement of the foundation’,” the union said.
It said members of staff at the school are very uncomfortable and the structural damage is having a psychological impact on them.
“The SVGTU takes its responsibility seriously and will not sacrifice the safety of students, parents, its members or any other occupant of that building,” the union said.