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No asbestos falling from the roofs at the Montserrat Secondary School

by Bennette Roach : (Update) On Friday evening last week, (November 1), there came the revelation that teachers were complaining that reports of asbestos had been discovered in the roof of the Montserrat Secondary school hall, since the Wednesday before and had been hidden from them until the news leaked. Before the dust settled and the air cleared, the MSS

students rehoused, some returning to take classes on the compound, several conflicting reports circulated, at one time there is no asbestos at the school, another there isn’t any in the roofs; ending up with samples of the suspected material being shipped to Miami for testing, by the end of this week. Meanwhile several meetings including consultation with the , some students (fifth form an those preparing for CXC have returned to the campus. (See GIU release: MSS Students to use site to complete CXC SBAs, says Ministry of Education) below By Monday, November 4, 2013, government was ready to address the people after the Premier the previous Saturday, promised that statements would be made on Monday.

Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley

Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley

The Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley, then on Monday with his purpose team, joined by the Hon Premier Reuben Meade, moved to dispel the first information to hit the scene that there was asbestos falling out of the roofs at the Montserrat Secondary school buildings. They also addressed issues arising from the confirmation that there could be buildings with ‘asbestos material’. The team consisted of the Premier Meade, Education Minister Riley and Permanent Secretary Philip Chambers, Director of Education Glenn Francis, and head of Project Implementation Unit (PIU), Owen Lewis. They confirmed that there was no asbestos falling from the roofs at the MSS but said there was a suspicion that there could be asbestos present in the buildings but was of no danger to anyone’s health, since asbestos can only become harmful when ‘disturbed’.

head of PIU Owen Lewis

head of PIU Owen Lewis

PIU head Lewis said inspections were carried out Saturday and Sunday and teams which also involved Environmental Health personnel, covered one building, currently sub divided into three classrooms. He said, “debris is falling from the roof, but on further inspection the technical team identified that the ceiling of the building was termite infested, and the debris that was falling and accumulating on the ground was the result of the termite infestation.” The problem developed when according to Lewis, “…the team had to go into the ceiling compartment of the main hall and the material used for lagging, that has a high probability of containing asbestos was identified…” The problem grew worst when that Monday morning further investigation showed the situation to be greater that originally reported. Lewis said: “This investigation has identified that the material is allot more extensive than was originally thought and this was due to the work that was carried out back in the early 1990’s as the minister reference before.” Lewis then concluded, “so the technical team will continue to work with the Ministry of Education, as we put together now a plan in terms of how the material can be safely removed from the compound and dispose of properly and we will share that plan with the Ministry as it is developed later this week.” It was this last report that threw the Ministry into top gear, a plan that the Minister said had been in place to transfer MSS operations to the north if volcanic activity made that necessary. “If Salem went into emergency mode we would take all the schools to the north of the island…” he said.asbestos-at-MSS-press-conference-(7) The problem he said is that the upgrading of the Lookout school had been slowed from court involvement and is not fully ready. At this stage, other plans had to be made to facilitate the new unforeseen circumstances to remove school operations from the compound. The Minister then revealed that there are ongoing plans to rebuild the MSS compound as a fit for purpose secondary school and the opportunity may be right to advance to these plans. “When I came in as Minister in 2009, I was anxious to build a new secondary school,” he said. “Salem is the preferred site now for the MSS of the future and that land is already government owned.  It already has some assets -what we’re going to be doing – we’re proposing, a major reconstruction that is goanna take all of the functions of a modern secondary school in mind,” the Minister said. (See GIU release: Montserrat Secondary School Emergency Could Lead to Modern School says Education Minister) below Doubts of asbestos presence at MSS campus The report of the increased gravity of potential asbestos on the site, raised questions of the works referred to as carried out in 1994.  And the further questions are, if, how or why there can be asbestos “remnants” on the buildings? JE Galloway Construction Company Limited in a ZJB report, Managing Director Emmanuel Galloway said it was necessary to clear the air on reports that they covered up the findings of asbestos at the MSS.  He went on to assure: the MSS staff and students and the Montserrat community that in the performance of our works we took that necessary precautions and that the ministry of communications and works …correspondence on test results related to this matter. He acknowledged that in April 2000 his company won a contract to perform some renovation work on the Salem campus of the MSS. He said that the contract entailed, “repainting the buildings, replacing defective windows and doors, upgrading of the electrical and plumbing services and the removal and replacement of the roof covering on some of the buildings. “During the first site meetings the project architects saw material resembling asbestos.” He said his company suspended all works on the building that appeared to contain the suspected material until the appropriated test could be conducted. This they did, adding that representaives of the Ministry of Communications and Works, (to whom no reference has been made since the new suspicions) at the time took samples of the material and had the material tested for asbestos. Galloway reports that in April, 2000, his company sent samples of the suspected materials to asbestos testing lab in the USA…the test result revealed that asbestos was not detected in any of the sample. He said, “likewise the results of the test conducted by the Ministry of Communications and Works at the time came back negative.” Today, the PIU announced that samples of materials from the buildings at MSS would be sent to Miami, USA for testing. The results were expected back on island by the beginning of next week. MSS Students to use site to complete CXC SBAs, says Ministry of Education Ministry of Education officials on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 said students preparing for CXC examinations will be allowed to use the labs at the main Montserrat Secondary School site to complete their School Based Assessments (SBAs). “In preparation for CXC examinations students need to complete labs /practicals in the following areas: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Integrated Science, Clothing and Textiles, Food and Nutrition, Electricity/Electronics, Wood Work, ICT. If the required number of labs is not completed the children will fail their exam in those subjects,” a statement from the ministry explained. “At the PTA meeting on the evening of Tuesday Nov 5th, it was explained to parents that children will be taken to the MSS site this week to complete these activities using only the top tiers of the compound which have been declared safe. The intention is to complete the labs before the work to remove the asbestos starts. The parents who were present at the meeting understood this and raised no objection to that plan. The teachers are willing to work with the children on site to ensure that the required number of labs is completed on time. “We ask for the full support and understanding of the parents and of the community,” the release ended. Work to remove the suspected asbestos material will only begin after the students have completed all of their SBAs. Montserrat Secondary School Emergency Could Lead to Modern School says Education Minister GIU (November 5, 2013) – Honourable Minister of Education Colin Riley on Monday said he will be pursuing the possibility of a creating a 21st Century school now that steps need to be taken to rid the Montserrat Secondary School of materials thought to contain asbestos. Students were asked to stay home on Monday and Tuesday while officials decided on the best course of action for housing the more than 300 students and teachers of the secondary school in Salem. Following an independent consultant’s group findings of material which may contain asbestos, the decision was taken to close the school and find alternative accommodations. Technicians from the Project Implementation Unit (PIU), the Environmental Health department have conducted independent investigations, both of which found “lagging” material in the roof and walls which are thought to be made from asbestos products. PIU head Owen Lewis said the materials were discovered while a consultant team was making structural evaluations on the school campus to ascertain the life of the buildings and recommend a phased approach to upgrading them. Minister Riley said they had been under the impression that when the school’s roofs were changed in the 1990s that all of the asbestos material had been taken care of. He acknowledged that it was a serious but inherited problem which the government is working on collectively with teachers and other ministry officials to find the best possible outcome for the students and Montserrat. This emergency, he noted, is providing the impetus to pursue more speedily the creation of a state-of –the-art secondary school for Montserrat. “Salem is the preferred location for the school in the future and we want to work with all of our partners including the Ministry of Finance, DFID, the teachers, students and parents to create a school which we all can be proud of,” Minister Riley said. The education minister said the vision includes the creation of a campus which can house up to 750 students and provide for all of the modern functions of a learning environment, including the performing arts and sports. He noted that this negative circumstance has created the opportunity to advance the plans for building a new secondary school. The minister acknowledged the support of the planning team which includes Permanent Secretary of Education Phillip Chambers, Director of Education Glenn Francis, PIU Director Owen Lewis, and the principals of all three public schools. “We do not know the exact timeline for MSS to return to Salem. In the initial phase we will operate a complete school from Monday, November 11 at the Brades Primary School campus. As it relates to returning to Salem, after some work is done it will be possible to reoccupy the buildings which were not affected. We will also refurbish the Salem Primary School compound including the 1920 building and the ones built in the 90s. In the second phase, we will have enough space and functional capability to take the school back to that community,” the minister stated confidently. “We do ask people to be patient. The quality of the education will not be any less and we want to keep safety at the forefront.” Starting this Wednesday, fifth formers are asked to return to classes at the Salem Primary School until Friday. From next week Monday, classes will resume for all secondary school students at the Brades Primary School. Students from Brades Primary will attend classes at the Lookout Primary on a shift basis until November 18 when the buildings now under repairs will be completed and handed over. At that time, both primary schools will operate concurrently.

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by Bennette Roach : (Update) On Friday evening last week, (November 1), there came the revelation that teachers were complaining that reports of asbestos had been discovered in the roof of the Montserrat Secondary school hall, since the Wednesday before and had been hidden from them until the news leaked. Before the dust settled and the air cleared, the MSS

students rehoused, some returning to take classes on the compound, several conflicting reports circulated, at one time there is no asbestos at the school, another there isn’t any in the roofs; ending up with samples of the suspected material being shipped to Miami for testing, by the end of this week. Meanwhile several meetings including consultation with the , some students (fifth form an those preparing for CXC have returned to the campus. (See GIU release: MSS Students to use site to complete CXC SBAs, says Ministry of Education) below By Monday, November 4, 2013, government was ready to address the people after the Premier the previous Saturday, promised that statements would be made on Monday.

Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley

Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley

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The Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley, then on Monday with his purpose team, joined by the Hon Premier Reuben Meade, moved to dispel the first information to hit the scene that there was asbestos falling out of the roofs at the Montserrat Secondary school buildings. They also addressed issues arising from the confirmation that there could be buildings with ‘asbestos material’. The team consisted of the Premier Meade, Education Minister Riley and Permanent Secretary Philip Chambers, Director of Education Glenn Francis, and head of Project Implementation Unit (PIU), Owen Lewis. They confirmed that there was no asbestos falling from the roofs at the MSS but said there was a suspicion that there could be asbestos present in the buildings but was of no danger to anyone’s health, since asbestos can only become harmful when ‘disturbed’.

head of PIU Owen Lewis

head of PIU Owen Lewis

PIU head Lewis said inspections were carried out Saturday and Sunday and teams which also involved Environmental Health personnel, covered one building, currently sub divided into three classrooms. He said, “debris is falling from the roof, but on further inspection the technical team identified that the ceiling of the building was termite infested, and the debris that was falling and accumulating on the ground was the result of the termite infestation.” The problem developed when according to Lewis, “…the team had to go into the ceiling compartment of the main hall and the material used for lagging, that has a high probability of containing asbestos was identified…” The problem grew worst when that Monday morning further investigation showed the situation to be greater that originally reported. Lewis said: “This investigation has identified that the material is allot more extensive than was originally thought and this was due to the work that was carried out back in the early 1990’s as the minister reference before.” Lewis then concluded, “so the technical team will continue to work with the Ministry of Education, as we put together now a plan in terms of how the material can be safely removed from the compound and dispose of properly and we will share that plan with the Ministry as it is developed later this week.” It was this last report that threw the Ministry into top gear, a plan that the Minister said had been in place to transfer MSS operations to the north if volcanic activity made that necessary. “If Salem went into emergency mode we would take all the schools to the north of the island…” he said.asbestos-at-MSS-press-conference-(7) The problem he said is that the upgrading of the Lookout school had been slowed from court involvement and is not fully ready. At this stage, other plans had to be made to facilitate the new unforeseen circumstances to remove school operations from the compound. The Minister then revealed that there are ongoing plans to rebuild the MSS compound as a fit for purpose secondary school and the opportunity may be right to advance to these plans. “When I came in as Minister in 2009, I was anxious to build a new secondary school,” he said. “Salem is the preferred site now for the MSS of the future and that land is already government owned.  It already has some assets -what we’re going to be doing – we’re proposing, a major reconstruction that is goanna take all of the functions of a modern secondary school in mind,” the Minister said. (See GIU release: Montserrat Secondary School Emergency Could Lead to Modern School says Education Minister) below Doubts of asbestos presence at MSS campus The report of the increased gravity of potential asbestos on the site, raised questions of the works referred to as carried out in 1994.  And the further questions are, if, how or why there can be asbestos “remnants” on the buildings? JE Galloway Construction Company Limited in a ZJB report, Managing Director Emmanuel Galloway said it was necessary to clear the air on reports that they covered up the findings of asbestos at the MSS.  He went on to assure: the MSS staff and students and the Montserrat community that in the performance of our works we took that necessary precautions and that the ministry of communications and works …correspondence on test results related to this matter. He acknowledged that in April 2000 his company won a contract to perform some renovation work on the Salem campus of the MSS. He said that the contract entailed, “repainting the buildings, replacing defective windows and doors, upgrading of the electrical and plumbing services and the removal and replacement of the roof covering on some of the buildings. “During the first site meetings the project architects saw material resembling asbestos.” He said his company suspended all works on the building that appeared to contain the suspected material until the appropriated test could be conducted. This they did, adding that representaives of the Ministry of Communications and Works, (to whom no reference has been made since the new suspicions) at the time took samples of the material and had the material tested for asbestos. Galloway reports that in April, 2000, his company sent samples of the suspected materials to asbestos testing lab in the USA…the test result revealed that asbestos was not detected in any of the sample. He said, “likewise the results of the test conducted by the Ministry of Communications and Works at the time came back negative.” Today, the PIU announced that samples of materials from the buildings at MSS would be sent to Miami, USA for testing. The results were expected back on island by the beginning of next week. MSS Students to use site to complete CXC SBAs, says Ministry of Education Ministry of Education officials on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 said students preparing for CXC examinations will be allowed to use the labs at the main Montserrat Secondary School site to complete their School Based Assessments (SBAs). “In preparation for CXC examinations students need to complete labs /practicals in the following areas: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Integrated Science, Clothing and Textiles, Food and Nutrition, Electricity/Electronics, Wood Work, ICT. If the required number of labs is not completed the children will fail their exam in those subjects,” a statement from the ministry explained. “At the PTA meeting on the evening of Tuesday Nov 5th, it was explained to parents that children will be taken to the MSS site this week to complete these activities using only the top tiers of the compound which have been declared safe. The intention is to complete the labs before the work to remove the asbestos starts. The parents who were present at the meeting understood this and raised no objection to that plan. The teachers are willing to work with the children on site to ensure that the required number of labs is completed on time. “We ask for the full support and understanding of the parents and of the community,” the release ended. Work to remove the suspected asbestos material will only begin after the students have completed all of their SBAs. Montserrat Secondary School Emergency Could Lead to Modern School says Education Minister GIU (November 5, 2013) – Honourable Minister of Education Colin Riley on Monday said he will be pursuing the possibility of a creating a 21st Century school now that steps need to be taken to rid the Montserrat Secondary School of materials thought to contain asbestos. Students were asked to stay home on Monday and Tuesday while officials decided on the best course of action for housing the more than 300 students and teachers of the secondary school in Salem. Following an independent consultant’s group findings of material which may contain asbestos, the decision was taken to close the school and find alternative accommodations. Technicians from the Project Implementation Unit (PIU), the Environmental Health department have conducted independent investigations, both of which found “lagging” material in the roof and walls which are thought to be made from asbestos products. PIU head Owen Lewis said the materials were discovered while a consultant team was making structural evaluations on the school campus to ascertain the life of the buildings and recommend a phased approach to upgrading them. Minister Riley said they had been under the impression that when the school’s roofs were changed in the 1990s that all of the asbestos material had been taken care of. He acknowledged that it was a serious but inherited problem which the government is working on collectively with teachers and other ministry officials to find the best possible outcome for the students and Montserrat. This emergency, he noted, is providing the impetus to pursue more speedily the creation of a state-of –the-art secondary school for Montserrat. “Salem is the preferred location for the school in the future and we want to work with all of our partners including the Ministry of Finance, DFID, the teachers, students and parents to create a school which we all can be proud of,” Minister Riley said. The education minister said the vision includes the creation of a campus which can house up to 750 students and provide for all of the modern functions of a learning environment, including the performing arts and sports. He noted that this negative circumstance has created the opportunity to advance the plans for building a new secondary school. The minister acknowledged the support of the planning team which includes Permanent Secretary of Education Phillip Chambers, Director of Education Glenn Francis, PIU Director Owen Lewis, and the principals of all three public schools. “We do not know the exact timeline for MSS to return to Salem. In the initial phase we will operate a complete school from Monday, November 11 at the Brades Primary School campus. As it relates to returning to Salem, after some work is done it will be possible to reoccupy the buildings which were not affected. We will also refurbish the Salem Primary School compound including the 1920 building and the ones built in the 90s. In the second phase, we will have enough space and functional capability to take the school back to that community,” the minister stated confidently. “We do ask people to be patient. The quality of the education will not be any less and we want to keep safety at the forefront.” Starting this Wednesday, fifth formers are asked to return to classes at the Salem Primary School until Friday. From next week Monday, classes will resume for all secondary school students at the Brades Primary School. Students from Brades Primary will attend classes at the Lookout Primary on a shift basis until November 18 when the buildings now under repairs will be completed and handed over. At that time, both primary schools will operate concurrently.