Ministry Acts Promptly in Relation to VHS Chemistry Students Concerns
(EMU) – St. Kitts, February 5, 2019: Acting Chief Education Officer (CEO) Mr. Darryll Lloyd says the Ministry of Education dispatched an investigative team to the Verchilds High School on Friday February 1, immediately upon receiving reports that some students appeared to have been experiencing similar symptoms (spots) on their palms and arms.
According to Mr Lloyd, Education Officer Mrs. Carla Diamond accompanied him to the school after they had been apprised that all the affected students had used the Chemistry Lab days prior.
“After speaking with the school we would have communicated with the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Hazel Laws in relation to the information we received and she was able to provide two health officials in the persons of Director of Community Health Services, Dr. Keisha Liddie; and Deputy Chief Environmental Health Officer, Mr. Jermaine Lake. Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of Education Hon. Shawn Richards was also on the ground trying to find out what had transpired,” stated the acting Chief Education Officer.
Mr Lloyd explained that upon arrival at the school, the team from the Ministries of Education and Health met with the affected students to seek to determine the root of the issue at hand in order to deliver a prompt solution as quickly as possible.
“We believe that health is important and would want to ensure that our teachers and students are healthy, particularly on the compound,” stated Mr. Lloyd.
Parents of the involved students were invited to a meeting at the school on Monday, February 4th at 9:00 a.m. Mr. Lloyd stated that during the meeting parents and teachers naturally had a number of questions based on their concerns for the students.
“The school was asked to submit a report with respect to the chemicals that were used during a recent experiment that was conducted in the lab, given that the spots only appeared on the hands and arms of those who have been in the lab since then. The CMO assured us that the Ministry of Health would provide the necessary testing to determine what would have transpired and the way forward,” Mr Lloyd told the Education Media Unit.
Following the initial meeting with parents, affected students and teachers, the Ministry’s representatives, including the acting CEO; Assistant Chief Education Officer, Mrs. Debbie Isaac; and Ministry of Health representatives convened a second meeting with the general school body.
“The way forward is that the Ministry of Education would provide the necessary support for all those who were affected. The Department of Health is working with us to provide the necessary testing,” assured the CEO.
He continued, “Some parents informed the school that prior to the continuing health assessments they would have taken their children to the doctor. In these instances, the medical costs incurred by the parents will be met by the Ministry.”
Parents were asked to submit the necessary medical documentation to the principal of the Verchilds High School.
“Again, we consider this a very serious matter because the health of our children is critically important and so we dropped everything and went swiftly to the Verchilds High School. We want to assure the Verchilds High School’s staff and students – and the community – that the Ministry will do whatever we can to ensure that they are safe. We also want to do the necessary testing in the lab and employ an experienced, specialized cleaner to ensure that the lab is properly cleaned before the students continue to function in the lab.”