Changes at Ocho Rios Primary after ganja-laced candy scare
ST ANN, Jamaica — Changes to the way students are dropped off at school and guidelines on items to avoid buying from vendors are among the immediate modifications school administrators say will be rolled out at Ocho Rios Primary School in St Ann Tuesday morning.
The new rules were proposed after more than 60 students had to seek medical help on Monday after consuming ganja-laced sweets sold by a vendor at one of the school gates.
As of Tuesday, students transported on the school bus will be dropped on the school grounds, bypassing vendors at the gate. A meeting has been held with the school’s safety and security team and other measures may be implemented after the board and school administrators hold further talks.
School Principal Suzette Barnes-Wilson has repeatedly stressed that the vendor who allegedly sold the product to students is not affiliated with the school.
“We work with our vendors, but again I say this is not one of the regular vendors; this is somebody passing by trying to earn money and sold the kids this product. So we were having a meeting with our safety and security team and we will also do our double checks and… decide as to the way forward. But our boys and girls are normally protected. We will now have our bus driver, instead of leaving them at the gate, taking them onto the compound where they will be safer,” Barnes-Wilson said on Monday.
She said these measures will be put in place “immediately”.
“Our safety and security team kicked in and we will move from there…. Our board chairman, our full team will make a final decision for our boys and girls,” Barnes-Wilson said.
She noted that the school is equipped with cameras that help monitor vending activities at the school’s main gate.
“We have meetings with our vendors if we see anything coming up. We had one [meeting] two or three weeks ago… So this is someone that nobody knew. I was told that a man came by selling stuff and they asked him kindly to leave and he left and he went to the back gate,” she noted.
That section was out of view of the cameras.
The principal is looking forward to things returning to “normal” on Tuesday.
“We will again call our boys and girls together and educate them as to what to buy and who to purchase from,” she said.
Barnes-Wilson said the school’s emergency response was activated as soon as they learnt of the incident Monday.
“Vomiting, nausea, and some persons were fainting…. We had some who were just feeling dizzy, some say they are not seeing and different things that the children were reporting. So we had to rush the team from the school. We activated it fast and we got in touch with one of our bus drivers and he got down here as quickly as possible,” she said from the hospital.
The incident is being investigated by the police.