Manchester school may have to reuse termite-ravaged furniture next week
Despite termites damaging the benches at the McIntosh Memorial Primary School in Williamsfield, Manchester, Principal Vyonnie Whynes is hesitant to dispose of them, just in case students have to resort to reusing them when the new academic year...
Despite termites damaging the benches at the McIntosh Memorial Primary School in Williamsfield, Manchester, Principal Vyonnie Whynes is hesitant to dispose of them, just in case students have to resort to reusing them when the new academic year begins next week.
“If we don’t get the furniture, we still have to put things in place, so the children will be sitting on old, termite-[infested] benches because if that’s what I have, that’s what I have to work with. ... We just have to cut, and buy board and see what we can patch up,” she told The Gleaner.
“I can tell you that termites have eaten down most of them. We don’t have the financial resources to build furniture. ... We have to just try and just hope and pray, but if we don’t get the furniture, we’re not going to crumble over either.”
Whynes said that sometimes, school administrators have to call other colleagues at other institutions to see if they have extra benches to spare, noting that McIntosh Memorial Primary last received help from Belair Preparatory.
“As a principal, you have to be vigilant, too, because it’s over 2,000 schools we have in Jamaica, and we have to accept the fact that every time it’s not going to be your school, and so you have to also put things in place,” she said.
Whynes said that the $150,000 subvention the Government gives the school to prepare for reopening annually is not sufficient to undertake the necessary maintenance and repairs.
PARENTS THE BACKBONE
She told The Gleaner that the school is sustained through the strong support of the parents, whom she lauded as the backbone of the institution.
“We depend greatly on our parents, because if we don’t get contributions from them, we can’t do it. The $150,000 will just not work,” she said.
When The Gleaner visited the school recently, painting work was being undertaken, but Whynes pointed out that because resources were limited, only the exterior walls of the buildings would be refreshed using 73 gallons of paint.
“We can’t paint the inside because we’ve spent over $400,000 on paint and that’s what we got from the parents, and that’s why we really want to commend our parents for the effort they put to ensure that school can be put back together [for] September’s reopening,” said Whynes.
Despite these issues and a shortage of academic and administrative staff, Whynes believes the school will be able to reopen next Monday.
At Broadleaf Primary and Infant, also in Manchester, there is a shortage of furniture for teachers.
Principal Eaton McNamee told The Gleaner that there is enough furniture for the nearly 200 students on roll. He boasted, too, that all his teachers will also be returning as an exodus of educators islandwide has not affected his school.
“We are ready. The only setback we have is re the books from the Ministry of Education that we have not yet received, but otherwise, we’re ready,” McNamee told The Gleaner.
With the triple threat of COVID-19, monkeypox, and the hand, foot and mouth disease, infection control could pose a challenge for the school, McNamee admitted, however, citing a shortage of staff to carry out sanitation activities. Notwithstanding, he believes his team will be able to manage as they are confident in their execution of the sanitation and safety protocols.