Education ministry advises schools affected by Riverton smog to remain closed
The Ministry of Education is advising the public that the schools that were closed last Friday, as a result of the smog emanating from the Riverton City Disposal Site in St Andrew, should remain closed on today.
Permanent Secretary, Elaine Foster-Allen, says the closure is to facilitate the clean-up of some schools and determine their readiness for resumption, particularly those located within the immediate vicinity of the disposal site.
She advised that other schools may take the decision to remain closed, depending on the wind direction update provided by the National Meteorological Office.
“Approximately 50 of our schools were closed in Kingston, St Andrew, and St Catherine, and we are still yet to receive information on the number of children who received treatment. We do know that children in at least 10 schools had to be sent to a clinic to receive treatment,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary was speaking at a media briefing at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), yesterday, to provide an update on operations to extinguish a fire which has been burning at the Riverton City Disposal Site, since Wednesday, March 11.
Allen said representatives of the Ministry, which has been monitoring the situation, visited four schools in the vicinity of the site on Sunday to assess the impact on students preparing for the upcoming Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
She said the Ministry is also encouraging parents to ensure proper supervision of their children while they are away from school.
Meanwhile, Foster-Allen said a decision regarding the GSAT examinations, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, will be made by Cabinet today.
She advised that more than 11,500 students sitting the exams in schools in Kingston, St Andrew, and St Catherine, are likely to be affected.
“Some of the children have already been impacted by the smog; whether those children will be better by Thursday or Friday, we don’t know,” she stated.
The Permanent Secretary noted that a number of other issues exist, and all possible scenarios and recommendations will be made to the Education Minister, Ronald Thwaites, in time for Monday’s Cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, Foster-Allen said the Ministry will continue to advise the public regarding the re-opening of schools.