JIS News

The Ministry of Education, has advised that, in light of the impact and dislocation resulting from the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav, the 2008/09 academic year will officially begin on Wednesday, September 3.
The new school year was expected to commence today (September 1). However, a statement issued by the Ministry on Sunday (August 31), advised that the date has been pushed back, to afford administrators and teachers, as well as parents, time to undertake clean-up activities at their schools and homes, in communities affected by the storm.
The Ministry was, however, quick to point out that the ability of schools to reopen on the new date, was contingent on the extent of damage, if any, sustained by the institutions.
“Some schools will have suffered greater damage than others, and may not be able to reopen on September 3. Administrators should assess the damage, and contact the (Ministry’s) Regional Offices, to discuss their situation,” the Ministry’s statement advised, pointing out that a general assessment, to determine the number and extent of the damage sustained by schools is being undertaken.
During a media briefing at Jamaica House last Friday (August 29), to provide an update on the damage sustained islandwide, Prime Minister Bruce Golding, hinted at the possibility of a delay in the commencement of the new academic year, particularly by those institutions designated shelters for evacuees of communities that were flooded.
“It is possible that we might have to delay the opening (of school) for a few days,… a day or two. because where schools are being used as shelters, it may not be possible to have those shelters completely vacated by (the expected start of the new school year on) Monday. It’s a day or two that we, perhaps, will have to make up for in the course of the term. (But) where they (schools) were being used for shelters the Ministry of Education will do an assessment, in consultation with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), to determine the scheduled opening. (However) we expect to have them vacated over the next few days,” the Prime Minister stated.
There are upwards of 900 designated shelters islandwide, which include a number of the country’s over 700 schools. One such institution, which, at the time of the briefing, the Prime Minister said he was aware had sustained damage, was the Manchioneal Primary School in Portland.
“One of the buildings there, where we were sheltering people, a section of the roof.. went, (and) we had to relocate those persons into another section of the school. Arrangements will be made for those repairs to proceed as quickly as possible; hopefully, that won’t disrupt the reopening of school,” Mr. Golding stated.