New school building forced to shut over heating system failure

by Gary Ibbotson

A South Dublin girls’ secondary school was forced to close down for three days last week after its heating system failed.

Sancta Maria College in Ballyroan had to send all 500 students home – despite the fact that a new state-of-the-art school building opened in November 2019.

However, less than a year since it’s unveiling the new building has had to close due to the heating system breaking down.

Raising the issue in the Dail FF TD John Lahart hit out at the fact that less than a year since its opening the new building had to close due to faulty heating.

He said: “As background, Sancta Maria College has a brand new building. It is barely open. It cost the taxpayer a lot of money. It is proud educational infrastructure in the heart of the community.”

Deputy Lahart said it was “with great shock,” given the efforts of the students, staff and Department of Education officials to get the school re-open in September that the school would have to close due to a non-Covid related incident.

He added: “A consequence of this is that pupils returned home.

“It is of particular consequence and anxiety to students and their parents who are studying for the leaving certificate to be sent home and to lose time, having already lost three to four months of the school curriculum in the lead-up to the leaving certificate in 2021.

“They were then told that learning has to move online, which has proven satisfactory in some subject areas and unsatisfactory in others.”

Deputy Lahart asked Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, represented in the chamber by Minister for State Josepha Madigan, for an update on the situation and how such a malfunction can occur.

Deputy Madigan told the Dail chamber that the main contractor for the project, L&M Keating – who has since applied for examinership – ceased work on the site in early July and “has not returned since”.

She said: “My Department’s building unit is aware of the problem with the heating system in the school and was told at lunchtime on Tuesday, 6 October, when the school emailed, seeking approval to appoint an engineering contractor to resolve the issues.”

She said that an engineering contractor was approved to undertake all necessary repairs and that the school would re-open on Monday, October 12.

Sancta Maria College has been contacted for comment.

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