All schools have electricity, water, most reopen today

~ Breakfast, lunch for students ~

PHILIPSBURG–All schools in the country are now reconnected with light and water and most are scheduled to reopen their doors to accommodate students today, Monday, four weeks after closing in preparation for the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Education Minister Silveria Jacobs told reporters at a press conference on Sunday that all schools had light and water as of Saturday. While some schools will reopen to accommodate exam and pre-exam students only, some schools will open for all students. However, all teachers are expected to be present at their respective schools as of today.
Jacobs said school buses will be operating, as 30 have been approved to operate (see related story). With the assistance of the Red Cross, students who are in need will also be provided with breakfast and lunch and the school feeding programme will “go into overdrive.” The Catholic School Board will initially provide complimentary breakfast and lunch for the students in its schools and will eventually narrow it down to the students who are in need of this.
Also, the uniform codes at schools will be relaxed so children who lost their uniforms during the hurricane can still attend school. Jacobs said authorities are looking into creating a fund to help parents to get school materials and uniforms, and she urged parents to inform their respective schools of their child(ren)’s uniform and school supply needs.
For the future and due to the extent of damage to some schools, several mobile schools will be used in the country in the interim. Three pavilions, each containing six classrooms for a total of 18 classrooms, arrived in the country over the weekend on board the HNLMS Karel Doorman. The mobile schools are equipped with sanitary facilities, air conditioning units and have sufficient tables and chairs.
The pavilions will require setting up and Jacobs said the schools that will be using them will be made known soon, although she said Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA) for the Performance Arts will be one of the schools to benefit. More mobile classrooms are expected in the country.
Jacobs and representatives of several schools and school boards updated reporters about the reopening of schools at a press conference at the new Government Building on Sunday.

Catholic schools
With the exception of Sister Marie Laurence Primary School, all Catholic primary schools (Sister Magda, Sister Regina, Sister Borgia, St. Joseph and St. Dominic) will open for all grades today. Jacqueline Greene of the Foundation Catholic Education said the afterschool programmes will be in effect until 5:00pm daily at the reopened schools. Early Stimulation at St. Dominic Primary will not start today, but is expected to resume as of October 9 or before.
Due to the devastation at the school as well as looting, Sister Marie Laurence School will not be reopening today. The school manager wants to keep the school together and is expected to meet with parents, and the school is expected to resume on Wednesday for pre-exam and exam students and by October 9 for other classes. Early stimulation will no longer exist at Sister Marie Laurence Primary and affected pupils will be integrated into other schools. Parents will be informed of which school their child will be integrated into.
St. Dominic High School will start today for first and fifth formers as well as students of IB years 1 and 2. The school will welcome forms 1,2 and 3 on Wednesday.
Greene said that of the total student population of 1,198 at the various Catholic schools; 1,110 students either attended or were represented by a parent at the soft opening of schools last week. A total of 139 students are off-island and Greene suspects that the number is more.
A total of 40 of the 250 teachers at the various Catholic schools left St. Maarten after Hurricane Irma. Eleven of the 40 teachers have left the country permanently and 29 are willing to return. The teachers who are willing to return are exploring all means necessary to return to the country. The Ministry of Education will be assisting in their return.
Regarding the 11 teachers who have left permanently, Jacobs said that while the various school boards are responsible for recruitment, many St. Maarteners who are educators have signalled their willingness to return home. She has personally received three such calls and there are more.

Hillside Schools
All classes at both campuses of Hillside Christian Schools will reopen for all classes at the regular school time today, the Hillside Christian Schools representative said.
According to the representative, both campuses of the school were damaged. At the Asha Stevens campus in Cay Hill, the office and one classroom were damaged. The office has since been relocated to another section of the school and the classroom has been fixed.
Roofs were blown away at the Helmich Snijders campus in St. Peters, but luckily the school was in the process of rebuilding and the damaged classrooms will be relocated to the newly constructed section of the school.

Milton Peters College (MPC) and Sundial School board representative Wim de Visser, who is also the General Director of both schools, outlined the damage sustained at the two schools. MPC and Sundial will be assessing the situation with their students during the course of this week and both schools will start in full as of Monday, October 9.
Students in the upper forms of MPC and Sundial School should attend school today and Tuesday, October 3, at 7:30am. The upper forms include VSBO-TKL/PKL/PBL 4 and 5, and years 4 and up for HAVO and VWO.
Both MPC and Sundial will have a two-day programme in place to assess the situation of students and see how they are doing, and depending on their situation, the school will continue the teaching process. The same will be the case for the lower forms of both schools. All lower form students – VWO 3; HAVO 1, 2 and 3; VSBO-TKL/PKL/PBL1 and 2 and Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) 1 and 2, should attend school on Thursday, October 5, at 7:30am for an equivalent programme.
National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) has agreed to accommodate Sundial School’s hospitality students, as that school was severely damaged, including its restaurant and kitchen. De Visser said that while MPC looks okay, a solution is needed for Sundial School. Nineteen teachers from both schools are still off-island, but all have indicated their willingness to return and all are expected back to the country by October 9.

Public Schools
Head of Public Education Glenderlin Davis-Holiday said all seven public schools will reopen their doors for pre-exam and exam classes today. This means that Oranje Primary School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School, Leonald Conner Primary School, Ruby Labega Primary School, Marie Genevieve de Weever Primary School, Prins Willem Alexander School and St. Maarten Vocational Training School will open for pre-exam and exam classes today, Tuesday, October 3 and Wednesday October, from 8:00am to 12:00pm.
More classes will open in phases from 8:00am to 2:00pm Thursday, October 5, onward as classrooms and teacher readiness permit.
Davis-Holiday said public schools also suffered damage.

Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA) representative Hiro Shigemotoo said the former Government Administration Building, to which it relocated in December, is completely destroyed and is no longer habitable.
“We lost the physical building, but didn’t lose our spirits,” Shigemoto said. CBA has moved everything to a new location and will start classes at USM today. CBA will occupy two classrooms at USM and will operate based on a shift system for classes. Three of the school’s 18 staffers are off-island, but all are willing to return and are just awaiting flights back to the country.

There were no representatives of St. Maarten Academy at the press conference, but both Academy Academic/Academy PSVE and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams (CAPE) will open for pre-exam and exam classes today from 7:30am to 12:00pm.
Academy’s school board has introduced extended hours from 2:00 to 6:00pm for students who are in need of a space to do homework and research using WiFi. The implementation of the extended hours will be made known to the students by the school management.
Principal of Academy’s Preparatory Secondary Vocational Education (PSVE) section Lavern Shury-Nelson said in a press release on Sunday that the school will open to forms 3 and 4, today. The school has electricity, phone service and running water and will await a quality assessment of the water by GEBE to determine when it can use its water fountains.
Students in forms 1 and 2, should report to school on October 16. The school sustained minimal physical damage during the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“This was repaired by our school board. A complete assessment is ongoing to determine the impact on the newly-installed information technology (IT) infrastructure for our WiFi classrooms,” Nelson said.
The school’s Student Care Department assessed students on September 28.
“From this assessment we are aware that a number of students are displaced and many do not have Internet, water and/or electricity where they are. We are also aware that a number of parents/guardians are no longer employed or are now under-employed. To provide some relief in this situation as a school, the dress code is relaxed until further notice,” she said.
“For students, this means that they are allowed to wear their own clothes once it fits into the code of decent dress/attire. Our boys can save the $10 barber bill by growing and grooming their hair.”
Students will also be allowed to have their phones on campus to facilitate communication among family members and as a learning tool during free and break periods. Teachers continue to determine their use during instruction.
Weekly assemblies are postponed for the months of October, November and December to allow the Student Care Department through its mentors to assist students to cope with their new normal in smaller group settings.

Seventh Day Adventist School
There was no representative of the Seventh Day Adventist School at the press conference, but this school will open for pre-exam and exam classes today.

There were no representatives of Methodist Agogic Centre (MAC) Comprehensive Secondary Education (MAC-CSE) or MAC primary school at the press conference, but MAC-CSE will open for form 1 from 7:30am to 12:00pm, form 3 from 7:30am to 12:35pm, form 5 from 7:30am to 1:45pm and forms 2 and 4 from 10:15am to 3:15pm. MAC’s Browlia F. Maillard and John A. Gumbs campuses will open for all grades today.

Minister Jacobs had said in a press release late Friday that NIPA was still being used as a shelter, as it previously had been stated that the shelter would be closed as of Wednesday, September 25. Unfortunately, due to the delay in temporary housing, NIPA is still being used as a shelter and consequently will not be made available in time to accommodate students.
The board and management of NIPA are requesting that students do not visit the campus until it is ready for operations. Management will inform students in a subsequent release on the date and time of the reopening.

University of St. Martin (USM) also will inform its students on the reopening of the institution in a subsequent press release as the information becomes available.

Source: The Daily Herald