Vermin infestation

Classes have been cancelled for the Government Primary School in the village of Ranchito, Corozal district.

The decision to cancel classes for the remainder of the week stems from what has been described as a vermin infestation.

While the Ministry of Education has been tight-lipped about the situation, our Corozal correspondent says that parents say the problem has been persisting for some time now and their calls for help have gone unanswered until now.

According to information received, the parents of the two hundred or so students of the school, met with the school's administration and officials of the Ministry of Education to discuss the situation.

Reports we have received say that bats and rodents have taken up residence in at least two of the school buildings.

Other insects such as roaches and termites are also invading the school buildings.

Our reports are that officials of the Ministry of Education, the Social Investment Fund and the Central Building Authority have made an assessment of the situation and have reportedly concluded that the parents concerns are valid.

We understand that the Corozal Health Inspector and the Pesticides Control Unit have been called in to conduct and extermination exercise.

Patrick Jones

Yesterday we told you about the situation faced by students at the Ranchito Government School who have had to stay at home following the cancelation of classes for the week. This is due to the dilapidated condition of the largest school building at the school compound and the rodent and insect infestation in at least two buildings. The biggest and perhaps the oldest building at the compound has been deemed unsafe and unsanitary by the Belize Central Building Authority following an inspection sometime last week. Officials from the health and Education departments visited the school yesterday while students were out of classes.

They were assessing the situation and finding appropriate spaces to relocate the now displaced students. Today, our News Room received a letter from one Mister Mendez who claims to be the president of the school committee at the Ranchito Government School. We attempted to get in contact with Mendez but to no avail. In his e-mail, Mendez says that parents have not heard from the health official. According to Mendez, they held a meeting on April thirtieth which the Health official informed she could not make but promised to meet at a later date. In that meeting, Mendez says 119 parents signed a letter stating that they will not be sending their children to school until the Ministry of Education finds a solution to the problem.

The Ministry has stepped in and is taking steps to fix the problem. The community center at the village has been suggested as a possible temporary space for at least two classes but according to Mendez, this building also has similar problems. Only when the center and another building are cleaned, will parents allow children to return to classes says Mendez. The reason is because, according to Mendez, parents feel that having the students at the community center also poses a safety issue as well as a health hazard since there are only two bathrooms there. They urge the Ministry to ensure that all necessary facilities be placed at the center if students are to use the building. Mendez also mentioned that as late as one this afternoon no one had returned to the school to ensure that the work is started. Mendez adds that they hope that the situation is solved as soon as possible since the children are losing out on time in their classes.

The Social Investment Fund intends to construct a school building at the school in mid-2015 but Mendez is of the opinion that this project be carried out sooner.