Repair work to Collège Soualiga completed, final inspection due | THE DAILY HERALD

Work in progress at Collège Soualiga on November 2.

MARIGOT–Repair work to the troubled Collège Soualiga modular building in Cité Scolaire Robert Weinum was completed on Saturday, November 4, with the Collectivité due to take delivery on Monday, November 6, pending approval to occupy classrooms by the safety commission.

Frustrated parent associations had issued an ultimatum that repair work – mainly water leaks from the roof, and other issues – must be carried out during the All Saints holiday (Toussaint). A delegation from the Collectivité, headed by Third Vice President Dominique Louisy, was due to inspect the college on Monday afternoon.

In response to pressure from teachers and parents, Castel et Fromaget, specialists in metal building construction, carried out waterproofing work on the three upper classrooms. The work was completed on Saturday, November 4.

“It's up to the Collectivité to give me the go-ahead to open the classrooms,” Principal Edithe Velayoudon said. “In the meantime, we’ve prepared the new timetables. If the Collectivité authorises access to the building, students will be able to resume classes all day, starting on Wednesday.”

A system of alternating half-days, which began on Monday, October 9, for the school's 592 pupils should end with the completion of work on the modular building.

The condition of the building installed at the school after the passage of Hurricane Irma in 2017, which accommodates a total of 168 students, had given rise to considerable concern due to water infiltration. There had also been criticism that construction of the building had been “hurried.”

Faced with what they considered to be inaction on the part of the Education Department, the parents went to the Préfecture on Monday, October 16, and were received by the Secretary General Fabien Sésé.

The parents set out all their grievances: the risk of a lack of space despite the renovation of the modular classrooms; the lack of communication between the school principal and parents; the five absent teachers who have not been replaced; the need to make up for the 104 hours of lost lessons; difficult working conditions, with temperatures reaching 35°C in the classrooms and some teachers forbidding students to drink water during lessons; and the possibility offered by the Education Department of taking online courses.

Sésé assured parents that he would pass on these grievances to the relevant authorities, and that he would organise a meeting with parents to inform them of the progress made.

That meeting took place on at the Préfecture on Tuesday, October 23, in the presence of Vice-Recteur Harry Christophe, Third Vice President Dominique Louisy and Préfecture Secretary General Fabien Sésé, who was later joined by Préfet Vincent Berton. As for the five absent teachers (French, Maths, English, Spanish and history-geography), the Vice-Recteur assured that contract teachers had been hired to make up the shortfall.

Parents also reminded the meeting that students have lost 104 hours of lessons since the start of the school year in September, and asked what arrangements would be made to make up the lost time. On this subject, proposals for catch-up sessions were put forward: filling Wednesday afternoons with classes, cutting the lunch break by an hour and adding an hour of classes in the afternoons, releasing students at 5:00pm.

These proposals raised doubts on the part of the representatives of the parents’ associations present at the meeting as to whether they would be accepted by all parents.

“Many pupils take part in extracurricular activities on Wednesday afternoons, and this organisation will prevent them from doing so,” explained one of the parents, a catch-up that risks penalising students even further by adding to their timetables, at the risk of exhausting them, she added.

Source: The Daily Herald