PHILIPSBURG–Schools in St. Maarten will reopen their doors for a “soft opening” on Thursday, September 28, to enable students to assess their school materials and speak with their teachers, peers and guidance counselors.
The official reopening is still set for Monday, October 2, Education Minister Silveria Jacobs said in an update on the status of schools. Schools in the country had been closed since before the passage of hurricane Irma, which hit the country with category five winds on Wednesday, September 6.
The Foundation Catholic Education school board consisting of St. Dominic Primary School, St. Dominic High School, Sister Regina Primary School, St. Joseph Primary School, Sister Magda Primary School, Sister Borgia Primary School and the Sister Marie Laurence Primary School are all “fully prepared” to reopen for all grades and cycles on October 2.
The School Board for Secondary Education SVOBE consisting of Milton Peters College (MC) and the Sundial School will be operational for pre exam and exam classes on October 2. The Foundation for Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE) school board consisting of the academic section of St. Maarten Academy, the Preparatory Secondary Vocational Education (PSVE) section of St. Maarten Academy and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams (CAPE) classes will also be operational for pre exam and exam classes.
The Methodist Agogic Center, the Asha Stevens and Hillside Christian Schools will also be operational as of October 2.
All Public Schools will begin on October 2, with pre-exam and exam classes, while other classes will be announced once additional information is available as to teacher availability.
As of Wednesday, September 27, the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) will no longer be used as a hurricane shelter, after which it will be thoroughly cleaned and ready for classes on October 2.
University of St. Martin (USM) has granted Charlotte Brookson (CBA) for the Performance Arts the use of three classrooms, which will allow CBA to start on the target date of October 2, with its 5th and 6th formers at USM.
USM and the Seventh Day Adventist School are still in the process of assessing the nature and severity of the damage and availability of classrooms and staff. Once the information has been determined, the information will be made available accordingly. Learning Unlimited (LU) Preparatory School began classes on Monday September 25.
School boards have met internally and have made provisions to house students in collaboration with sister schools, Jacobs said in the release.
Currently 18 out of the 27 schools in the country have electricity and 12 have water. Jacobs, and staff members of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) are in contact with utilities company GEBE, TelEm and United Telecommunications Services (UTS), to ensure the restoration of electricity, water and telecommunications to the schools to remain on target with the reopening.
“I am very impressed by the readiness of the subsidised schools and their cooperation with each other to make the reopening of school a reality as soon as possible. I would like to thank all teachers, management and staff and school boards for all their personal sacrifices to make this possible in the interest of our youth on St. Maarten,” Jacobs said. “Your needs will also be met, your happiness and wellbeing is also important to us and with God’s help and strength, we will all make it through this ordeal stronger and better than before. Education is on the move.”