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Sep 9, 2019

Classes at La Inmaculada RC School still suspended pending further evaluations

Classes at the La Inmaculada R.C. School in Orange Walk have been suspended until Wednesday. That’s to give time to authorities to deal with the condition of the New River where the stench from gases has been making the students and teachers sick.  Past that, the school is looking at the option to relocate though that would present a huge challenge. Dalila Ical was in Orange Walk and has the following report.


Dalila Ical, Reporting

Students attending La Inmaculada RC Primary School remain home, hopefully returning to school by Wednesday of this week.


Lenny Umaña, Principal, La Inmaculada RC School

Lenny Umaña

“We are trying to get things done without causing the chaos but also doing the right thing.”


Classes were suspended since Thursday of last week after students and teachers began feeling ill following three days of exposure to the smell emanating from the New River.  Since then, officials of the Ministries of Education and Health and the Department of the Environment have been monitoring the condition of the river.


Sensors, which were provided by Belize Natural Energy, BNE, have been installed at the school. These measure the level of hydrogen sulphide or H2S in the air.


Edgar Ek

Edgar Ek,  Deputy Chief Environmental Officer, DOE

“That will give us an idea as to where we can take some measures and actions depending on the levels we observe. So, those sensors will be there for as long as we want it to be there.”


Lenny Umaña

“So far I am glad to report that our school has not shown any signs of high levels of gas as what the indicators are saying. Nevertheless, the people from the environment come in to monitor that situation. I am glad to report that it has not reached a level of concern when it comes to the gas level here. So, that’s a plus for us.”


It was decided though that a couple more days were necessary to ensure that the children will be returning to a safe environment. The hope is that students can return to the learning environment they have grown accustomed to.

Lenny Umaña

“I do believe that giving it a try this Wednesday is the best shot that we can take. Relocation is not the best option because of the amount of students we have. So anything that we can do before that, any steps that we can take before that that could work, is the way we would like to go.”


There is however, a high possibility that the school management and the Ministry of Education may have to move the children.  As the DOE monitors the river near the school, it is also installing aerators in the river at Maracas Bar & Grill which will introduce oxygen into the water.


Edgar EK

“If this proves to be successful, like I said, we will have to install it along the impacted area. Again, I must stress that once we install that, the conditions will start to deteriorate until they come back to a normal level. So, during that time we have to be strategic as to what we are going to do”


Considering the urgency for classes to resume, authorities are looking at how best to address the situation.


Lenny Umaña

“We have different plans. We have from plan A to plan D. So, let parents know one thing. Their children are our number one priority.”


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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