Mystery illness: Annandale students relocated

Guyana Chronicle
November 30, 2006

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STUDENTS of Annandale Secondary School, embroiled in a controversy over a mystery illness allegedly affecting several children, have been temporarily relocated for the school environment to be cleaned to ensure there is no health threat, an official said yesterday.

Regional Education Officer, Ms. Dudmattie Singh, made the announcement when she met parents to update them on developments at the school where classes have been disrupted.

Students have been staying away since several went down to the mystery illness last week.

Under the temporary relocation arrangement, Singh said, students from forms one to three will attend classes at the Annandale Primary School, while those in forms four and five will be housed at the Lusignan Primary School. At both locations classes will run from 12:30 h to 16:30 h, she said.

Enhancing the environment, she said, will include fumigating the building, repairing the sewage system and a general cleaning and sprucing up of the environment.

The exercise will be overlooked by officials of the Environmental Protection Agency and the health care system, the officer said.

Classes at the school are scheduled to be resumed by Tuesday, Singh said.

On Tuesday, the canteen, at the centre of the controversy over the illness of the affected children, was demolished resulting from a decision by the Regional Democratic Council of Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) in conjunction with the owner of the demolished structure.

Some parents claimed it was built on the grave of Dutchmen and that this somehow caused the mystery illness. They demanded that the canteen be torn down.

The controversy at the school broke out during the latter part of last week when 12 students reportedly became ill but after being examined at the Georgetown Hospital Corporation (GPHC) doctors concluded that nothing medically was wrong with them.

Some parents of the affected students mounted a picketing exercise Monday at the Regional Education Office demanding the dismantling of the canteen

The Ministry of Education in a statement last week said that as a precautionary measure, classes were suspended Thursday and regional officials inspected the school.

It also assured parents and the general public that every effort was being made to ensure thorough investigations to find out the source of the problem and what exactly caused the students to feel unwell.