SUMMERSIDE – Two students from Three Oaks Senior High School are concerned for their safety amid ongoing construction at the school.
According to the students, who wished to remain anonymous but referred here to as Jane and John, said that at a grad activity this week students were taken to the lecture theatre and kept there for a period of time before having to evacuate the school, along with teachers, custodial staff and construction workers. They were then taken to the East Prince Career and Technical Education Centre building located next to TOSH.
“It was right in the middle of the grad activity, when one teacher said we all needed to go to the lecture theatre. They didn’t let us out and everyone looked really worried,” explained Jane.
“A lot of the students, especially the ones from last night’s activity, are feeling unsafe and don’t want to go back into the school.”
She continued, “You could literally rub your finger along a desk and your fingertip would be covered. We don’t feel it’s safe. There have been students today saying that they’re finding it hard to breathe.”
Construction on the school is in its second year, with hallways and different sections of the facility blocked off at given times throughout the process.
According to John, there have also been incidents where debris and dust has fallen from the ceiling and electrical wires have been left exposed.
“Wires came down from the ceiling the other day and nearly hit one of my teachers. Another time, I was in class and one of the construction workers was welding in a hallway nearby, because there was no ventilation, the classroom just filled with fumes and a strong smell,” he said.
Even though steps are being taken to ensure safety and reduce the amount of distraction and upheaval students and staff have to go through, these students say it’s not enough.
“We both feel like they aren’t taking the safety precautions that they should be because the bulk of the work is being done during school hours,” Jane said.
They say there is no way to escape the noise or construction.
“You’re always around it, it’s either under you, above you, or beside you. It’s all about making the school pretty and not practical. And we think the sections that are blocked should be air locked, so dust and other particles won’t fly out when the tarps are open or there is a breeze,” he said.
She added, “This is the final countdown. Our school year has already been shortened to end in May. It’s been hard on everyone.”
They’re also concerned the students who don’t have cars or live close by, will have nowhere to go at lunch or during free periods once work on the cafeteria and the kitchen begin.
Jeff Clow, principal of the high school, says student safety is always top priority.
“If it wasn’t safe, we wouldn’t be in the school. It was construction dust last night, and there was no concern for students to come back into the school this morning, because we were at school last night and construction crews were cleaning up. There were also air quality tests performed.”
Clow also said school staff and the contractors meet every week to discuss any concerns that might come up.
As for noise levels, he says the crews try to do the louder work in the mornings before the day starts or after school gets out.
Parker Grimmer, director of the Public Schools Branch, said he would look into it and provide more information on Friday.