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Sep 19, 2019

Phase One of Contingency Plan Activated at La Inmaculada

The Management of La Inmaculada School in Orange Walk Town has moved into gear to activate phase one of their contingency plan to ensure the health of the school population as well as teachers. On Wednesday, students and teachers fell ill and had to seek medical attention. Beginning today and until the situation clears with the New River, the classes will be held from eight a.m. to one-thirty p.m. since the stench is strongest in the afternoon. Here is Dalila Ical with a report.


Lenny Umaña, Principal

“Yesterday was a total disaster here after lunch after the rains had fallen.”


Dalila Ical, Reporting

Principal Lenny Umaña says the downpour stirred the river and a strong stench enveloped the entire river bank reaching all the way to the Central Park. The smell was unbearable. Some children were already not reporting to school but Wednesday’s episode saw teachers and over twenty children falling ill.


Lenny Umaña

“The children not reporting to school have been with nausea, vomiting, headaches, upset stomach. Yesterday we got an instant flash of congestion. Two of our teachers have gone in for nebulization and things like that because they do suffer some type of asthma or they have a weak lung and most of our children were with some dizziness and headaches in the classroom.”


Lenny Umaña

Parents attending a meeting were also affected. The heavy rain did not allow for children to be sent home so teachers did their best to contain the situation until dismissal time.


Lenny Umaña

“We have to safeguard that they get home safely. Dismissing our children at any time in the afternoon is not a safe thing to do. Most parents at our school pick up their children here so all we can do is just have them here till dismissal time. So, to avoid all of this, because we never know when we will get another effect like the one we had yesterday. The best thing is to start at eight, finish at one thirty and I must say we will do our five and a half contact hours with the children. So, no time will be lost with them.”


The plan was given the green light late Wednesday night by the Chief Education Officer and the school’s General Manager. School officials have been observing the situation for a week, noting that the stench disrupted classes mostly in the afternoons. Children will now have to report to classes at eight o’clock in the morning and will be dismissed at one thirty in the afternoon.


Lenny Umaña

“Although the plan could have been instituted last week, we still wanted to give it a regular school run to see how it went. Unfortunately, though it’s not working and the plan just became initiated so that we could best cater for the needs of our children at the time”


Umaña admitted that while the situation varies each day, the health of the students and school staff is priority adding that personnel from the Ministry of Health have been monitoring the situation daily. The new school hours will remain as such until given the all clear from the Department of the Environment and the Ministry of Health.


Lenny Umaña

“That we don’t’ know when it will be, so we could be like this for a week, a month, a term, whatever it takes.”


In the interim, parents are asked for their support.


Lenny Umaña

“We are forfeiting our lunch break but parents have been asked to kindly assist us with this crisis and they are trying to send little lunches along with them. They will have supervised lunch time with the kids, which is a short ten to fifteen minutes break. So we are asking parents to send things like little sandwiches fruits, little sweet bread, little things that will hold them up till one thirty.”


As the school proceeds with the precautionary measure, Umaña says relocation remains on the table.


Lenny Umaña

“We have three options, option one is already n board today. The second option is the shift system hoping that a sister schools is willing to adopt us for afternoon sessions. With that it will bring a little inconvenience to that school but it will be helping too. If that cannot take effect the last option is the relocation which you all know we are trying our best to avoid, nevertheless, being very cautious that our kids get the best of health and the best of education as possible.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Dalila Ical


The Department of the Environment issued a release today in which it states that it has been actively monitoring the water quality and hydrogen sulphide levels of the New River since the installations of aerators and has noted improvements in the water quality. It adds that hydrogen sulphide alarms at the school have not rang. It reminds that the rains will likely increase malodor from the river and advises residents to be cautious when traversing the river. Of note is that personnel of the department met today with the management of the school in Caledonia Village, Corozal District which is located close to the river.  We understand the students and staff there are facing similar challenges as La Inmaculada RC School.

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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