La Inmaculada RC School in Orange Walk Town has been closed due to the stench from the nearby New River that is making the students and teachers ill. Today, we caught up with the Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, at another event where he discussed the closure of the school.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education: “We have been studying the situation carefully and we’ve been careful to work with the various ministries that are related to this issue. So we’ve been consulting with the Ministry of Health, in fact you noticed that on the day when there was the biggest problem when children started recording that there were the smells coming we waited for the Ministry of Health to give us a report before we officially announced the closure of school for the rest of the week and we’re going to continue to study the situation. We’re working with the DOE as well as you’ve heard them say over and over, now they’re working to clean up the river, remove some of the dead fish and some of the other organic material from the river that they believe is causing the stench. We’re going to study the situation over the weekend and so we are going to make a decision then probably closer to Monday morning but we suspect that this is a problem that won’t go away by then and so we’ve urged the school to come up with a kind of backup plan so that if we can’t use the premises of the school that we can use some other premises for the conduct of school. I know being the Minister of Sports as well the school has approached us and we’ve given approval for us to use the various sporting facilities for school; there is the sporting complex in Orange Walk and there is also the stadium so we will look at these alternative venues and we will try our best to ensure that children are given an opportunity and that they’re not taken too far behind as a result of this problem.”
Faber commended the management of La Inmaculada for the way they have dealt with the situation.