South Surrey parents concerned with what they describe as limited washroom access for students at Hall’s Prairie Elementary are calling on the school district to install a modular facility on the site to fill the gap until a new elementary school opens in the Douglas area.
Mike and Pandora Gulliver, who have two boys at the 8 Avenue school, said they first raised concerns about the issue last year, bringing it to the attention of administration, district and Ministry of Education officials – to no avail.
With more students enrolling this year, they’ve raised the even-more pressing issue anew.
“It’s expanded quite a bit,” Mike Gulliver said of the school population.
“Unfortunately, they’ve not expanded any of the washroom facilities. We’re up over 200 kids… and there is literally one toilet for the boys to (use). There’s two urinals and one toilet for the whole school. There’s probably about 120 boys.
“I complained last year, when there was about 170 students. This year, they’ve added another portable, added another 40 kids, and there’s still no extra bathroom facilities. If somebody makes a mess in one of those stalls, the boys are just absolutely out of luck.”
Principal Chris Baldry said he appreciates that the Gullivers have raised concerns, and – as with last year – that he has asked the district to review the situation.
At the same time, he said he’s not heard similar washroom concerns from any other parents, staff or even students.
“The parents bring it up, but the kids don’t,” Baldry said, adding that he’s also never seen students lining up to use the washroom. “The kids have never complained about it.”
Baldry said the bulk of the school’s population – which he said grew by 23 students this year – attend classes in portables, and he agreed that a modular-portable dedicated to washrooms would be a positive on the site.
It’s a step district spokesman Doug Strachan said has been taken in the district before, but not often.
“There are very few,” Strachan told Peace Arch News. “About a half dozen around the district.”
Strachan confirmed that the district’s facilities staff are planning another review at Hall’s Prairie “to assess the need and, if required, consider options for additional washroom spaces.”
Baldry noted there are an additional two stalls and a urinal for the boys in the school’s annex, but acknowledged the facility isn’t always open. As well, a girls’ washroom in the same building can only be accessed when the classroom it’s accessed through isn’t in use.
Finn Gulliver, in Grade 7, said the annex washrooms are “never” open.
And as for the washroom attached to the annex classroom, “unless you’re doing something in that room… you’re not allowed to use it,” he said.
Pandora Gulliver said if the annex washrooms were open consistently, it would bring the whole situation relief.
She said that’s not something the students should have to wait until January 2021 – the anticipated opening of the new Douglas-area school – to find.
“All we’re looking for is for the school board to pay for a portable bathroom for the next year-and-a-half,” she said.