TORONTO, May 3, 2012 /CNW/ - Eight teachers of adult ESL and many of their students have left their classrooms saying ongoing health issues have become intolerable.
Teachers and students have experienced vomiting, nausea, headaches and irritated eyes. It is believed that the problem is with the air quality, however the cause is still unclear. The school site is located in a strip mall next to a large fitness centre. Chlorine fumes from the fitness centre pool have been a problem over the past few years, but do not explain the recent acceleration of health issues.
OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, is calling for immediate action. "Teachers as well as students have serious, escalating health and safety concerns," said Thomas. "The cause of the problem must be identified and dealt with before classes can safely resume."
"I am deeply worried about the health and safety issues that the teachers and students are facing," said Robyn Lambe, President of OPSEU local 283. "At this point we don't even know what they are being exposed to."
"I am especially proud of the students for taking a stand with their teachers. Many of these students are new to Canada, and it is a big deal for them to speak out on this issue," said Lambe.
"These students have a dilemma," said Lambe. "They are committed to coming to school to improve their English skills, but are also afraid of the risks that entails for their health. They should not have to make that choice."
The Ministry of Labour undertook another round of air testing on Thursday May 3 after a first round of tests was inconclusive. During the inspector's visit they witnessed a student have an attack of vomiting.
Teachers will report to work at 9 am on Friday morning but will not re-enter the building until they hear the results of the new tests and their safety is ensured.
The Peel District Board of Education school site in question is the Bramalea Campus also known as the Adult Education Centre North. It is located at 25 Kings Cross Road in Brampton. It offers daytime, evening, and night classes, and receives funding from the Ministry of Culture and Immigration.
For further information:
Robyn Lambe, OPSEU local 283 President
Greg McVeigh, Staff Representative