The latest report on the state of Bermuda’s public school buildings conducted over a year ago, points up “numerous shortcomings” and outright breaches when it comes down to Occupational Safety and Health requirements and cleanliness.
The 42-page report following inspections conducted at all public schools between August and October in 2017, was the subject of a news conference held earlier today by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Walton Brown and Education Minister Diallo Rabain, to update the public on school maintenance reports.
The report noted “numerous shortcomings relating to the overall quality and scope of cleaning, upkeep and maintenance in tandem with improper modus operandi practices, and other omissions by school administrators, academic and custodial staff at the respective schools were observed and documented”.
“There were also several breaches of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1982 and the enabling Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 2009 were noted.”
Among them – exposed asbestos material was found in two schools and all schools were found to have some level of mould contamination.
But “no school had identified mould problems sufficient or significant at the time of inspection to warrant any major concern or that could be considered to and or likely posing any immediate imminent risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of students or teachers at the time of inspection”.
Schools were found to be”relatively safe, within time and scope comparative to their operations and related practices”.
“All schools had challenges relating to sanitation and hygiene, maintenance and upkeep of their buildings and related facilities.”
It was also noted that the bulk of first-aid and medical supply kits at most schools “were non-compliant with regulatory requirements and the “improper inspection and servicing of fire extinguishers and other fire safety devices and supporting apparatus”, was also noted.
The report also found that pest control at the island’s public schools to be “poor” when it comes to combating infestations by roaches, ants and termites.
“Some schools also had incidences of rodent infestations,” the report said.
“However, such instances were not overly pervasive but appeared to be localised to the precise locations where such instances were observed and noted.”
With regard to mould Minister Brown said: “Where there were high risk findings, these were addressed in consultation with the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Education Facilities Section, on an urgent basis during the course of the Review process.”
Moving forward, he said “strategies that have and continue to be implemented are yielding satisfactory results arising from the review of Occupational Safety and Health within public schools. Some noted examples of improvements include:
- Significant reduction in roof and ceiling leaks through roof repairs
- Installation of additional mechanical ventilation systems
- Implementation of enhanced cleaning methods by school custodians
- Elimination of recognized mould sources in schools
- Greater awareness amongst schools of the need to keep their facilities and general environments clean,
- Improved inter-Ministry collaboration, cooperation and coordination
“As a matter of priority during the timeline of receiving the original and follow up reports, I can confirm that a concerted effort has been undertaken to ensure that every school undergoes a consistent maintenance routine.
“This includes scheduled and timely upkeep and repair activities so that schools are being optimally cleaned and maintained in an acceptable state on a regular basis to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of our teachers and students.”
Minister Rabain said “ensuring safety” has been one of the Government’s “top priorities” since taking office.
But he said: “Despite our best efforts, our school buildings are aging – with the youngest building being over 50 years old. We are at the stage where rebuilding is needed, and this is a direction we must seriously begin to look at in the near future.
“We maintain regular checks to monitor building health and are proactive when it comes to treating issues found. Working alongside the Ministry of Public Works, any problems properly reported are immediately electronically logged, categorized and resources assigned to the issues as soon as possible,” said Mr Rabain.
“We will continue to monitor and carry out repairs as needed in order to maintain safe and healthy buildings for our students, teachers and administrators. This report is an invaluable tool to assist us in this regard.”
- Feature Photo Courtesy of DCI
The reports can be viewed at www.moed.bm :
Individual school reports are forthcoming.