JIS News

Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Jasper Lawrence, has advised that the majority of schools would re-open on Wednesday, September 3.
In the meantime, he said assessments are taking place to put a timeline on reconstruction efforts for the schools that were adversely affected during the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav.
“Based on the reports we have had from all six Regional Offices, the majority of schools will be able to resume normal operations on Wednesday, September 3. For a few schools, mainly in Region 2, which covers Portland, St. Thomas and St. Mary, they would not be ready to resume on Wednesday,” Mr. Lawrence told JIS News today (September 1), while noting that the affected schools suffered roof damage and land slippage.
“For example, Fair Prospect Primary, and High Schools in Portland, have sustained significant damage to their roofs. We also have Manchioneal All-age in Portland, Islington High, Tacky High and Port Maria Primary Schools in St. Mary. Those schools, for instance, have sustained some significant damage and so they will need some more time to put them in a state of readiness,” he pointed out.
According to the Chief Education Officer, assessments are now being done to determine how soon the schools would be ready.
“We are now doing the assessments on the ground and we don’t want to give a premature determination of the time they will be ready,” Mr. Lawrence pointed out, “but certainly by tomorrow we should know when they are going to be ready.”
“In fact, in the case of Tacky High, a contract was awarded for some work on the roof prior to Gustav, so we don’t know yet, whether or not we will have to extend the contract or what we will need to do, but as I speak, we have technical officers in the field doing the assessment of the damage,” he assured.
He explained that “access is posing a challenge to schools in Portland and St. Thomas, due to damage to the road network.”
He also pointed out that the damage sustained was not as extensive as Hurricane Dean.
“It’s probably 20-25 schools that have been affected, so it’s nowhere as extensive as the damage after Hurricane Dean. For instance, in Region 4, which comprises St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover, the most significant report we have up to this point, is the caving in of a pit latrine at Jericho All-age and the Building Officer is actually on the ground now trying to put together the assessment of the damage,” he explained.
In the meantime, Mr. Lawrence is advising parents and students to keep in touch with the schools for more information.
“The Ministry is working and certainly those who will not be back on Wednesday, like the schools I have mentioned before, our principals and teachers are so resilient, I am certain they will be working out something for those students who will have major examination, so they just need to keep in touch with the schools, the Regional offices and the Ministry of Education,” Mr. Lawrence emphasised.