Classes at Blackman and Gollop Primary School at Staple Grove, Christ Church came to an early end today as cow itch forced the closure of the school for the remainder of the week.
While Barbados TODAY was denied access to the compound, and was advised that the principal would not entertain questions from the media, parents were seen collecting their charges from as early as 11:30 this morning.
One parent who did not want to be identified, said cow itch, also known as trumpet vine, was a perennial problem for the school.
Meanwhile, at the nearby Thelma Berry Nursery School, which caters to three to four-year-old children, an upset teacher, who also requested anonymity, complained that the problem had been ongoing for much too long.
“From the time school open the first week we were getting problems with the cow itch. The school was closed one or two times because of this problem. We always get the problem with the itching. This is really ridiculous, we get this problem all the time. It affects the little ones the worst because they are always scratching,” the helper said.
“I know the ministry knows when the cow itch is ripe, there is a season for that. I would like to know if the ministry cannot deal with this problem before school recommences. They know when the pods are ripe so if they can deal with the situation that would stop the problem. It is causing students to be picked up early from school or remain at home for a few days and that isn’t good for teaching time. When you call the ministry they say they are working on the problem but it is still happening.”
While Barbados TODAY was at the scene general workers from the Ministry of Health, including Charles Inniss, were busy exploring ways to control the cow itch, which seemed to have worsened.
“Right now we have come to do some spraying to see if we can get the problem under control. On Friday we will also try to so some burning but that will depend on the weather. If we get a lot of rain we won’t have so much cow itch blowing but as long as it is dry and the wind is high we will get the cow itch problem,” Inniss explained.
The Ministry of Education has since issued a brief statement through the Barbados Government Information Service advising that the school “will be closed for the rest of the week due to an environmental problem in the area”.