Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Traumatised August Town Primary students afraid to leave home

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Morlton Wilson (left), principal of August Town Primary School in St Andrew, and Herfa Curtis (right), guidance counsellor, engage some of the few students who turned up yesterday. Of the approximately 370 registered students, only 70 came out following Monday morning’s gun attack that left one person dead and two others injured.

Principal of August Town Primary School in St Andrew, Morlton Wilson, said that the ongoing violence in the community has created an atmosphere of fear and unease for students and staff at the institution, causing hundreds to stay home.

The situation was made worse by the recent flare-up of criminal activities, which led to Monday morning's daring shoot-out involving men with high-powered weapons, who opened fire on persons at a section of August Town Road, killing 35-year-old correctional officer David Stewart and injuring two others.

As a result, yesterday's school attendance plummeted, as of the approximately 370 students registered, only 70 turned up for classes along with just a third of teachers, according to Wilson.

"We had anticipated that the students would not turn out after this awful display of violence on Monday," he told The Gleaner.

He noted, too, that the suspended JUTC transportation service to the community may have also impacted the attendance. He expects full attendance to be gradual.

"These children are traumatised by what they heard and saw. It was a really scary moment. Many of them were dashing for cover when it all began, and that is something that may never leave their minds," the principal said.

Wilson said it was sad that after a long history of gun violence and then several years of much celebrated peace, the community was once again seeing a return of those dark days, threatening the future of the youth.

"We have had a number of disruptions because of the crime situation. Our students who have exams coming up are at a disadvantage, because they are facing a challenge to prepare, as this is affecting them," said Wilson.

Stewart is the eighth person killed in August Town since the start of the year, according to police information.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com