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Home » Education, Featured, Health » Classes suspended for the rest of the week at La Inmaculada RC School as the health of the New River continues to deteriorate
Sep 4, 2019

Classes suspended for the rest of the week at La Inmaculada RC School as the health of the New River continues to deteriorate

An urgent meeting took place all afternoon in Orange Walk Town involving La Inmaculada School and the Ministries of Health, Environment and Education. The school is located near the New River; over a thousand students are enrolled. There are health concerns that the children will fall ill since they are being subjected to the stench from the river. Tonight, Chief Education Officer Dr. Carol Babb has confirmed that classes are suspended for the rest of the week as students and teachers have reported feeling ill. Among the symptoms reported are vomiting, nausea and headaches. School Principal Lenny Umana has told us that many teachers are now complaining of a sore throat. She added that the School’s management is also looking at the possibility of relocation. This will likely happen if the situation does not improve by Friday. The Ministry will be looking at possible options to facilitate this process. We are informed that the school management will convene Thursday to discuss a way forward. The ministries of the Environment and Health will continue to assess the situation over the weekend. Today, Dalila Ical headed to Orange Walk and files the following report.


Dalila Ical, Reporting

The administration at La Inmaculada RC School mobilized today to take measures as concerns grow over the health of students and staff. The school is located only a few yards away from a very ill New River. Over the phone, Principal Lenny Umaña says it’s a matter that requires careful thought.


Lenny Umania, Principal, La Inmaculada RC School

Lenny Umania

“We have started a process that takes…it is not easy but it must be done. We have contacted the ministry of education. We have contacted our managers and we have also contacted the health department. Everybody is mobilizing already and some people might say why wait up to day three. Sometimes we have to learn to take things on stride so we do the right decision with the lives of a thousand and add children too when it comes to education.”


Relocating is a possibility, but a delicate situation given the size of the school enrolment.


Lenny Umania

“Relocation? I want…If somebody could give me an answer to that where I could get a thousand plus children and fifty staff members. It is open. We are taking suggestions, recommendations, advise from the Ministry of Health. The ministry of education and our management will lead us how to proceed. I know parents get very sensitive. Chaos can be created but there is a level of control. We are dealing with students and of course they will say, oh but his is a serious situation. It is, nobody is taking that off the books.”


Umaña says they have been closely monitoring the situation since classes resumed on Monday.


Lenny Umania

“On Monday the environment was liveable. It was ok. We could manage. Tuesday was not bad but unfortunately for some reason today it is really getting, the smell the odour has become stronger.”


This morning children enjoyed recess time on the school’s football field and all over the compound. They were cheerful, as children should be, oblivious to health dangers in the air that emanate from the river.

Large sections of the milky brown waters near the school are now covered with a thick white film. A strong odour similar to rotting eggs permeated in the air in the area of the water. Environmentalists say it’s caused by high levels of sulphur bacteria, or hydrogen sulphide.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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