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Students greeted with rat feces and cigarette butts
Most students picture the first day back to the grindstone plunked into a gleaming classroom, surrounded by fresh whiteboards, washed-down desks, and shiny new equipment.
But this wasn't the scenario for Shannon Perkins' son entering Grade 8 at Frances Kelsey Secondary School this week.
"Visible rat feces, peeling stairs, broken window held together with duct tape, cigarette butts..., projector screen with obscene pictures and profanities, broken florescent light bulbs, no white boards (just) old green chalkboards and no running water," said the Cobble Hill mother of the portable that greeted her son on his first day at Kelsey.
"There are clearly rodents living in that portable and the children should absolutely not spend another minute inside there until they are properly exterminated and the entire standard of cleanliness is improved," Perkins wrote in an email to the News Leader Pictorial. "I am also incredibly disappointed in the principal of Kelsey, Marilyn Sanford, who knew the state of the portable early in August and still allowed the children to arrive in these conditions."
The portable Perkins is referring to houses four classes of children, mostly Grade 8s and is intended to be used as a science classroom.
"When we were given a tour of Kelsey at the end of last school year, we were assured our children would not be housed off to the side, away from the school as an after-thought in portables. Well that is exactly what happened and further to that the portables are disgusting and not fit for human occupation."
School District 79 assistant superintendent Lorna Newman was aware of the the portable's conditions and confirmed work has and is still being done to remediate the list of concerns.
"We are very much aware and we're working with maintenance to address the issues," Newman said Thursday. "These are priorities don't get me wrong, and these are all important issues."
She said Island Pest control has been called to investigate the rat feces and custodians have been asked to disinfect the learning space.
They've also put a rush on an order of new light bulbs and the projector has already been replaced.
New windows and removal of cigarette butts between window panes will be completed by end of day, she promised Thursday.
"It's very important the learning spaces are safe and healthy," she said.
When asked why these measures weren't taken before the first week of school, Newman indicated work crews preparing have been working "flat out" doing their best to get every school spruced up.
"When I look at all the positives, it's amazing what crews have accomplished, working flat out to make classrooms inviting spaces."
In the meantime, Perkins said she planned on contacting the Worker's Safety Board to have them perform an evaluation.
"If no one cares about our kids, maybe the province at least cares about its workers."