Parents threaten lockdown of Woodlands school

Workers wearing hazmat suits repairing the asbestos roof that broke during the summer vacation

 

 

Last year, disgruntled parents protested against the department by locking the school over the conditions their children were forced to learn in and the department’s lack of urgency to fulfill the plans to remodel the school earlier in the year.

One of the parents, Rachel Hemmero, who is on the Ward 32 committee, said that they requested a meeting with the head of department (HOD) on Monday but only saw a personal assistant who said their questions would be answered by the end of the day.

Hemmero was particularly outraged at the department’s total disregard after a classroom’s asbestos roof collapsed over the festive season.

“What if the roof had fallen while our children were in the classroom? We are jeopardizing their safety by allowing them to attend this school. Since our last protest, the department has done nothing. Will they only wake up once our children are hurt or even killed?” asked Hemmero.

According to a teacher at the school, who wished to remain anonymous, up to 40 children are crammed into small classrooms with little ventilation while open electrical wires run through the rooms.

Another parent, Delron Beyers, said that the school has a snake problem with regular sightings being reported last year.

“We are going to allow our parents to register their children for the first two weeks of school while we wait for answers from the department; but we are making it clear to the department and parents that we will go forward with a total lockdown should our demands not be met,” threatened Hemmero.

Some parents were not happy that the school could possibly close in two weeks, stating that regardless of the infrastructure problem, the children’s education should come first.

“I think we should not close the school because I doubt this will bring any change besides our children not receiving education. I feel like we as adults need to find another way around this because we cannot have our children suffer in these conditions, but we also cannot deprive them of an education,” said a concerned parent who wished to remain anonymous to avoid victimisation.

Governing body member, Ward 32 councilor and parent, Shawn Adkins, said the school was built in 1973 as a temporary structure in a pre-democratic era.

“That era is long gone and as hundreds of learners descend on the school for the new term, there is a silent killer that lurks in our midst: asbestos,” said Adkins.

He explained that while the department has the power to eliminate asbestos, he is yet to see if they have the will to act.

ANC Ward 32 branch chairperson and parent, Vincent Myeni, said that as far he was concerned most parents were not informed of the planned strike and that this was news to him.

“Most of us have not received any communication from the student governing body or the school,” said Myeni.

He added that he wants the school to be rebuilt but does not agree with the anarchic methods that some parents are resorting to.

“We need the engagement of parents and the governing body to move forward,” said Myeni.

Spokesperson for the Department of Education, Sihle Mlotshwa, did not comment on the matter after countless efforts were made to get a statement from him.

  AUTHOR
Byrone Athman
Journalist

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