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Empty school: Province to update community about 'masonry issues' at Oxford's school during Sept. 24 meeting

Students at Oxford Regional Education Centre will start the school year in Pugwash after routine maintenance at the eight-year-old school found an issue with masonry work.
Students at Oxford Regional Education Centre attending classes in Pugwash after routine maintenance at the eight-year-old school found an issue with masonry work. - Darrell Cole

Community meeting at arena at 7 p.m.

OXFORD, N.S. – Parents of students at the closed Oxford Regional Education Centre should get news on the future of the school during a meeting Sept. 24 at the arena.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

“We received the engineer’s report on the Oxford Regional Education Centre on Wednesday,” Marla MacInnis from Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal said in a news release. “Staff are assessing and reviewing the report now. The report’s findings, and our plan to act on it, will be shared first with the affected families and staff. Staff and families deserve to hear about the report first.”

In the mean time, MacInnis said, work has begun on the school. Fowler Construction Services is on site and has begun the work of fixing the masonry.

“We expect to know and be able to communicate a timeline to complete the necessary work soon,” she said.

The Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education announced in late August that students at the Oxford Regional Education Centre would begin the new school year at both Cyrus Eaton Elementary School and Pugwash District High School.

A news release from the regional office said the Oxford school was found to have an issue with the masonry work and will need to be repaired when students and staff are not present.

The school opened in 2010.

Cumberland South MLA Tory Rushton is calling on the government to give parents and students all the facts about the school.

“At this point, nothing should be kept secret from parents and students affected by the school closure,” says Rushton. “Their patience has been tested by the delays of this Liberal government. They need to know what the problem is, when it will be fixed, and when these kids can get back to a normal daily routine.”

The MLA said the present situation is not working and his office is getting numerous calls from concerned parents.

Rushton expects answers from the minister.

“The minister must let us all know what the future holds for the school,” Rushton said in a news release. “Students and parents want to get back to a normal school routine.”

READ MORE:

Oxford students to begin school year in Pugwash

• Parents concerned about student safety while travelling between Oxford, Pugwash

New school, new graduates in Oxford

The MLA said it was unacceptable for parents and students to only find out about the situation at the school on Aug. 23 when the province knew about the situation at the school on Aug. 9.

In the legislature, minister Zach Churchill said the situation in Oxford is an unfortunate one.

“We have a safety concern that has been brought to our attention by engineers. We currently have the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal professional engineers onsite doing a full-scale evaluation of the school to make sure that all the health and safety concerns related to the structure are properly assessed so we can develop a plan to address those,” the minister said. “I know this is an inconvenience to the community. It's unfortunate but the fact is that the health and safety of our kids comes first, and we need to make some difficult decisions sometimes to make sure that they are well taken care of.

Rushton said the community is concerned about the busing schedules, travel times and necessary transport for the kids to Pugwash. He said parents are concerned about the children's boarding on the bus early in the morning with winter months as well as after-school activities. He said the situation also means some high school students don't get home until 7:30 p.m. and it’s having an affect on part-time jobs and other activities.

He wants a commitment the school in Oxford will be repaired before winter.

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