Education Minister Myron Walwyn was on the brink of delivering on a promise he made to complete 32 new classrooms at the Elmore Stoutt High School in time for the new school year.
But now he has been stopped in his tracks by a category-5 hurricane which landed in the territory last week and virtually destroyed every building on the public school property on Tortola.
“Elmore Stoutt High School has been damaged. I took a look at it and, to be quite honest with you, I said to myself ‘where do I start?’,” Walwyn told BVI News Online.
The damage is evident as soon as you enter the school compound, as the metal gate which once separated the students from persons on the outside is now gone. Several of the buildings that were being constructed to accommodate sixth-form students have either been flattened or had their roofs blown away by Hurricane Irma.
So, too, has been the fate of the auditorium area and several other classrooms.
“Yes, it [the school year] will be further delayed. I have to meet with my permanent secretary, of course, and other members of government to discuss how we [are] going to go about handling school. But we should get it sorted out pretty soon,” Walwyn admitted after assessing the damage.
But, despite the destruction, the education minister said there are some positives; noting that he now has a new slate on which to rebuild.
“I have thought about it and there are some opportunities. In anything that you have that’s negative – in any devastation – there are positives and you have to just look for them and find those things and correct them.”
“There might have been certain decisions that you might have needed to make but… you couldn’t make them. Now it’s an opportunity to take it. We pretty much now have a clean slate to rebuild the country in the way that we want it to be rebuilt including the school,” said Walwyn.