PARENTS of students who attend St Michael's Primary School in Kingston, as well as teachers, are upset that construction work on a basic school on the same compound has delayed the school's opening for the new academic year.
When the Jamaica Observer visited the school yesterday, workmen employed to ASB Construction were seen digging trenches for the laying of sewerage pipes.
"The [construction] work started long before school started and the delay is not good for the students," said senior teacher Juliet McPherson. "This laying of pipes started only one week ago. We don't know when school will begin, as all the students came to school on Monday and had to go back home. It is a shame."
McPherson said the 175 students who attend the school were already at a disadvantage as a number of them came to school illiterate and the delay has only served to worsen the situation.
Workmen, meanwhile, said raw sewage was flowing from the badly-damaged pipes and posed a health hazard to students and teachers alike.
According to Keniel Whyte, a representative of ASB Construction, the approval for the replacement of the sewerage pipes was given only last week and the company was moving with alacrity to ensure that work is completed and the students will be able to attend school on Monday.
"We are working very hard to make sure that the work will be done on Monday. There was nothing we could do about it as this piece of work was not in the original contract," Whyte added.
His assurance, however, did little to calm irate parents.
"This is utter nonsense. This school is in the minister of education's (Ronald Thwaites') constituency and the students who come here are slow learners. This year was the first time that two students passed for Campion College from this school. The teachers need to get the chance to carry the thing forward as progress is being made at St Michael's," one parent said.
Thwaites, when contacted, assured the parents that although the school would be closed to students for about a week, their children would not suffer.
"I understand the inconvenience and I admire their interest. They want to get on with their children's education so they must be impatient with the progress of the work. However, the school staff will make up for the days during the school year and the children will not lose a week," he said.
-- Karyl Walker