Ongoing close attention will be paid by the Education Ministry to the situation at the Munroe Road Hindu school and Belmont Secondary School after issues of a criminal nature occurred at those institutions.
Guidance sessions continued yesterday at Munroe Road Hindu, after teachers showed distress and anxiety following Monday’s murder near the school.
And Belmont Secondary school teachers have been advised that from Monday, the number of MTS security officers was increased with police presence also and there’s now no barrier to resumption of school following last Friday’s attack on a safety officer.
Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly gave these assurances in the Senate yesterday, while replying to queries from UNC Senator Wade Mark.
After Monday’s murder outside of the Munroe Road Hindu and the emotional/psychological effect this may have had on pupils and staff, Mark asked if the ministry arranged for counselling for them.
Gadsby-Dolly said, “On Monday, a debriefing session was conducted with the teachers of the Munroe Road Hindu School. This was facilitated by the school social worker. At that time, the teachers presented with distress and anxiety. The EAP was also contacted to have follow-up group or individual sessions with the teachers as needed.”
She said yesterday, a team of four SSSD personnel, including guidance officers and school social workers, conducted whole-of-school debriefing sessions at both the primary school and the nearby Early Childhood Care Centre.
“Any child presenting with distress or heightened anxiety will be supported with follow-up action as necessary,” Gadsby-Dolly said.
She said it wasn’t the first time such a situation had occurred and regularly, school social workers and guidance counsellors interact with students to engage them in activities that will secure their mental health.
“When a circumstance arises, which no one can predict, then we’ll beef up resources to ensure that any trauma/experience by the students is taken care of by those officials,” Gadsby-Dolly said.
She also replied on measures after Belmont Secondary teachers’ refusal to work on safety grounds following last Friday’s incident, where gunmen accosted a school safety officer.
Gadsby-Dolly said, “The refusal to work process requires employees to approach the employer and union about the grievance, and give reasonable time for mitigation.
“If the employer fails to do so, then a refusal to work application can be made to OSHA, after which time an inspection can be done and a determination made.
“Approval for early school dismissal was given on Friday, April 28, when the incident occurred. As of Monday, the number of MTS security officers at the school had been increased, and there’s also police presence on site. This is to facilitate greater security as the fence breaches are being repaired. There is, therefore, no barrier to the resumption of school. Teachers have been so advised.”
She said she wasn’t aware of a request for a meeting between TTUTA and the ministry to address teachers’ concerns but said if it’s been made it will happen.
On whether concrete walls would be erected rather than fencing to deter culprits, Gadsby-Dolly said, “Unfortunately, concrete walls aren’t a deterrent to persons who are determined to get into any building. Schools aren’t excluded from this.
“So that consideration—though it may seem pre-emptive—may not actually play out because we’ve had instances where people go over school walls to get in. In this circumstance, we’re going to fix the fences as required and ensure the security presence is there for students and teachers.”