More than one year after asbestos frames were discovered at the Holy Trinity High School the education ministry is yet to complete the removal and replacement of them.
A lack of financial resources has been blamed for the slow pace of the work and the new school year will begin tomorrow with gaping holes where the frames once stood.
But the hard-working administrators at the school are not the ones to be blamed for the delay.
"One day a senior teacher came to me to point out that one of the many ventilation louvres was broken," Principal Sadpha Bennett told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We began to discuss how we were going to replace it when the teacher remarked, 'but this is not wood like we think it is' and I said that it is not concrete either since it was so thin ... then the realisation hit us ... asbestos," added Bennett.
That was June 2011.
The presence of asbestos in any environment, let alone a school, is no joke. Persistent exposure to asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, a condition where an accumulation of the fibres leads to scarring of lung tissue and shortness of breath, or mesothelioma - a rare form of cancer.
Removal and disposal
Several local institutions ranging from the National Water Commission to the Fire Service have had to deal with their own asbestos crises in recent years.
Following the discovery Bennett immediately got busy.
"I contacted Professor Ishankumba Kawa at the UWI (University of the West Indies). I knew of his work from my studies up there. He put me in touch with a company that could do removal and disposal.
"We received an estimate for just over $310 000 and sent it off to the building division of the Ministry of Education through the permanent secretary. It took one year to get an answer," Bennett said.
"The ministry officers told me in July 2012 to remove the louvres with immediate effect," the principal recounted.
"The truth is that we just did not have the funds," said Cheryl Bromfield, director of communications at the education ministry in response to Sunday Gleaner queries.
Building officer Uel Gordon was the education ministry's point man in coordinating the response to the asbestos problem.
The money to do the repairs was later identified out of Holy Trinity's subvention.
"Once the funds were identified our director of technical services, Carey Brown, gave the go-ahead and Mr Gordon followed through immediately," argued Bromfield.
This summer, the administrators at Holy Trinity painted the perimeter walls and freshened up the classrooms but the gaping holes where asbestos louvres once were are still there, and there is no word as yet on when the replacements will be put in.
But Bennett expects new louvres before the end of September 2012.
"We're still in discussions about the modalities for replacement, funds and so on, but we expect that to be resolved soon."