JIS News

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture is exploring options to avoid relocating students of some 63 schools. These schools remain closed due to the passage of Hurricane Ivan.
Director of Communications in the Ministry, Dorrett Campbell, told JIS News that the Ministry was examining the implications carefully before coming to a final decision.
“The Ministry does not want to dislocate the students. It presents problems for students who will need to adjust to a different environment. There is also the problem of proximity, because if there isn’t a school near to the one that is damaged, then it will incur transportation costs for these students,” Miss Campbell explained.
“Some of these schools that have been damaged are much smaller in numbers, so it would be easier to relocate those rather than the larger ones,” she added.
Miss Campbell noted that Regional Directors were in the process of convening meetings with Principals and school Boards to discuss the options, such as plans for making up the school days lost, as well as other critical issues relating to the schools that were damaged, administration of examinations, attendance, curriculum delivery and welfare of students and teachers.
An option, she noted, was to host classes under tents. “We are prospecting approaches to relocating these students or pitching tents, particularly in Galina, St. Mary. We are also awaiting reports from some schools that have been cut off in terms of accessibility, so we may have to find some way of getting in by helicopter,” she said.
“The Ministry is also developing a counselling programme to help parents, teachers and students cope with the traumatic effect of Hurricane Ivan,” she added.
Of the 63 schools not re-opened, 10 are still being used by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) as shelters; 10 are severely damaged and cannot be reopened immediately, and the Ministry is yet to receive word from another 43 schools, which have been inaccessible as a result of the devastation sustained by road networks and infrastructure in those areas, particularly Regions 2 and 5.
In the meantime, Building Officers have visited several schools across the island and conducted assessments, which revealed that most of the damage was done to the roofs.
Miss Campbell explained that “roofing that will be used this time around will be such that it can withstand another natural disaster. It makes no sense to put something on for temporary purposes and another hurricane hits and it is gone again”.”We have to ensure that the reconstruction is done to building specifications,” she added.
Some 826 schools, representing 83 per cent of the total number of public schools, were re-opened as of Monday, September 20, as the education sector gradually recovers from the adverse effects of Hurricane Ivan.
However, of the total number of schools that have been reopened, some have only been accepting students in critical Grades, particularly those in Grades 10 to 13 in the secondary schools, and Grade six in the primary schools.
The Ministry has been informed that all independent schools have been fully re-opened.

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