St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Another local High School is getting assistance with an environmental health issue this week. An unused building on the Cayon High School campus is being demolished, after asbestos was spotted through a crack in its walls.
Asbestos was believed to have been completely removed from the building in the early 1990’s, and it has not been used for years. Most recently it served as storage for SELF books.
WINN FM understands that the discovery of the asbestos was reported to the Ministry of Education earlier in the school term, and an environmental health officer visited the campus.
Last week staff was notified by the Ministry of Education that the operation to demolish the building would begin this week, and teachers began working toward finishing up their end of term duties by mid-week.
A Ministry of Education official told WINN FM that the seemingly sudden move to get the demolition done was not triggered by the recent events at the Basseterre High School, where teachers went public with their year-long efforts to get concerns about air quality concerns on the campus addressed. WINN FM was told that the company contracted to do the work at Cayon High would be closing for the holidays, and so they needed to get started right away in order to complete during the school’s Christmas vacation.
The official said that signs are to be posted at the school to alert the public about the nature of the operation.
Principal Addison James told WINN FM that teachers were trying to finish their assignments by Wednesday, but if necessary would return on Monday and Tuesday.
“Having found out that it is going to happen, we are happy that the action has being taken by the Ministry to demolish the building,” Mr. James said.
Classes at the Basseterre High were relocated for the last week and a half of the term pending the results of tests conducted on its campus to determine the cause of a series of symptoms experienced by staff and students over the past year. There have been worries that abandoned labs on the compound may have been the original source of the problem.
Tests conducted so far have ruled out radioactivity, and a number of gases. Results for tests for biological agents and respiratory particulates are expected before the end of the month.
Teachers began a sit-in on November 19th after seeking unsuccessfully to get their concerns about the situation addressed. They announced through the Teachers Union that they would not hold classes until the recommendations of a safety report conducted earlier in the year were implemented and they were assured that the environment on the campus was safe.
Testing for asbestos at Basseterre High is yet to be done.