Trinidad Guardian:-  In cases where the safety of students is jeopardised, principals and teachers can be suspended, Education Minister Anthony Garcia warned yesterday at the launch of the North Central Regional Health Authority’s (NCRHA) SUNreach Training Programme for teachers at the Mount Hope Women’s Hospital.

Citing a recent case where a principal was suspended after a pupil’s arm was broken during an altercation with a schoolmate, Garcia said: “Some teachers and principals are being penalized because of not discharging their responsibility.

The major responsibility is the safety of the students and in this case, the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) felt that the principal was not exercising due care.”

The minister said the SUNreach programme will give teachers tools to ensure the safety of their students. The programme was developed by the medical team at the EWMSC Paediatric Department to help teachers quickly identify and respond to medical emergencies at school.

Head of the Paediatric Emergency Department at the NCRHA Dr Joanne Paul said teachers are often not aware of the grave danger students might be facing, particularly in cases of injury, allergies or asthmatic reactions.

CEO Davlin Thomas said the NCRHA sees the programme as a strategic opportunity as there has been an increase in cases of children coming to the emergency room with injuries and complicated ailments that can be prevented or minimised if properly managed with early intervention. He said the objective is to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with delays in handling paediatric emergencies.

“The first two cohorts of the SUNreach programme have taken the training seriously and excelled at the practical and classroom session of the course, as all participants surpassed the requirements and were awarded certificates,” he said.

So far, 67 teachers from 20 secondary and primary schools in the NCRHA’s catchment area have been trained to provide emergency first response care to children at school.

Garcia and Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh were present for the launch of the third cohort of teachers for the programme which has been oversubscribed since it started in January.

Deyalsingh thanked the NCRHA for a “positive turnaround” in organisational and managerial techniques that have kept the mortality rate down at the Women’s Hospital.