THE teacher, who hurt herself trying to get out after finding herself locked in the school building, is still affected by the incident, a psychiatrist told the High Court on Tuesday.

Dr Ung Eng Khean of the Adam Road Medical Centre said that Ms Sivakami Sivanantham is still suffering from psychological distress. He anticipates her condition will improve but she would remain vulnerable to a relapse if faced with another crisis.

Ms Sivakami, 39, is suing the Ministry of Education (MOE) for damages and claiming that the ministry had been negligent in not ensuring that she had a safe working environment. Because she was locked within the premises for about 30 minutes, she also contends through her lawyers that the MOE caused her wrongful imprisonment.

To get out, she had climbed through a ventilation opening to find herself hanging by her hands some 3.7m above the ground in the rear of the building. She then let go, falling and fracturing her ankle. She was hospitalised at the Singapore General Hospital for a week but was in and out of the hospital and on medical leave for more than a year.

She had returned to Zhangde Primary School at 9am on Saturday, Feb 11, four years ago to prepare for the following week's classes. She left her handbag and mobile phone in the teachers' room on the second floor before going into a classroom on the same floor to work.

At about 1pm, she emerged from the classroom to find herself locked out of the staff room. The roller shutters to the ground floor exits of the staircases were also locked, so she was unable to leave the building.

In her interview with Dr Ung, she said: 'I felt as there was no way out ... I shouted ... no one heard me ... I kept looking to find the best place to get out ... I climbed up the opening ... I was then holding onto the ledge ... then I dropped down and fell into a drain.'

A staff member heard her cries and called for an ambulance.

Taking the stand in the afternoon, school principal Jaswant Kaur said that she had urged her teachers to leave the school premises by 12.30pm on Saturdays so that the school attendant could lock up and leave by 1pm.
The hearing continues.

Teacher is still affected