PHILIPSBURG–Education Minister Wycliffe Smith has turned down a request from Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) for all schools in the country to reopen a week later than scheduled in January 2019, after the Christmas holidays.
School is scheduled to be reopened on Tuesday, January 2, 2019. Both sections of St. Maarten Academy have been granted permission to reopen one week later than scheduled, prompting WITU to make a similar request for all schools across the board.
In explaining why WITU’s request would not be granted, Smith said the Foundation for Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE), which runs the Academy schools, had requested a specific change in the vacation schedule to enable the academic section of Academy to move back to its original location on L.B. Scott Road. Academy’s academic section has been located at its sister campus in Ebenezer since its school was destroyed during Hurricane Irma in September last year.
“So FAVE’s request was unique, specific and was related to the academic section moving from Ebenezer back to its campus on L.B. Scott Road,” Smith said. “When taking the decision not to issue a general vacation adjustment, I also took into consideration the fact that the vacation schedule was made public in October 2015 (thus three years ago) and at that same time had also been provided to school boards.”
Smith said that no school board other than FAVE had asked for this adjustment. “Therefore, the WITU’s request for a general adjustment to the vacation schedule will not be granted. Except for the FAVE, the vacation schedule for the Christmas break remains from December 17, 2018, through January 1, 2019. School re-opens on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.”
Elshot had argued that, given that school will be reopening one day after New Year’s Day, there probably will be a lot of absenteeism, amongst students in particular, if this reopening date remains, because January 1 is traditionally a family day and it would not be nice for teachers and students to have to get up early to return to school one day after the New Year.