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Bats cause student walkout

Maclean High School captain Phoebe Zietsch, Scarlette Squire and captain Jordan Fisher will participate in a student walkout to protest the lack of action in dealing with the school’s flying fox problem.
Maclean High School captain Phoebe Zietsch, Scarlette Squire and captain Jordan Fisher will participate in a student walkout to protest the lack of action in dealing with the school’s flying fox problem.

FRUSTRATED students will stage a mass walkout of Maclean High School tomorrow in a desperate bid to get authorities to remedy problems caused by a bat colony adjacent to the school.

The move, which has the backing of the school’s Parents & Citizens Association, was prompted by members of the school’s Student Representative Council and senior students.

School captain Phoebe Zietsch said nobody wanted the bats harmed, but the effect on students and their learning environment needed to be highlighted.

“They are quite loud even when they’re not flying and we can’t open any windows near where they are,” she said.

“They have us pretty much surrounded.”

She said students would like Environment Minister Peter Garrett at the school, but only if he was prepared to listen and act.

She said students were taken aback by reports that ‘greenies’ had rung the school asking that students be quieter during recess and lunch.

She said students didn’t deliberately make noise to disturb the bats, but wished the callers good luck in trying to keep 1200 students quiet during breaks.

Male captain Jordan Fisher said students had a right to come to school and learn in good conditions.

“Conditions need to be conducive to learning and at the moment they’re not,” he said.

Jordan, who has just started his Year 12 studies, said many of his courses were in the school’s G block, which had high exposure to the bats.

He said many staff were supportive of the walkout because they too were affected.

“It makes it very difficult for them to teach,” he said.

The walkout will coincide with the school recess from 11-11.20am.

P&C president Lorraine White said that at a meeting on Monday night parents voted almost unanimously to support the students. Only teacher members, who have a duty of care to students, abstained from voting.

“Hopefully this will generate a bit of media attention and with that the powers that be might be encouraged to do something,” she said.

She said bats had defecated on one female staff member, leaving faeces through her hair, face and clothes.

A Department of Education spokesman said the school’s focus remained the welfare of the students.


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