While the territory gears up for schools to be reopened after delays prompted by a tropical wave and two category 5 hurricanes, Minister of Education Myron Walwyn has put students on notice that they should not expect the comfort to which they once were accustomed.
On September 6, Hurricane Irma severely damaged five of the 16 public schools, forcing Government to implement a shift system, and to set up classrooms in temporary locations.
Considering the circumstances, Walwyn noted that it is possible for students to learn under a tree, adding that the quality of the instruction is what really matters.
“While we will strive to ensure that we provide an environment that is conducive to learning, the level of comfort that our students have grown to appreciate will be compromised because of the circumstances. I want to ask both parents and students to cooperate and give us their full support as we seek to restart the education process,” Walwyn said.
He continued: “It is important for me to mention here that the most important thing in the education process is the quality of instructions in the classroom. And those instructions – as was the case many years ago, could be delivered very well even under a mango tree. I say this to say that, while we may not have the same comfortable buildings that we had before the passage of Hurricane Irma, I have every confidence that, based on the commitment of our principals and teachers to their jobs, the investment made in their professional development, and from the evidence of the stellar performance of our students in the recent CSEC and CAPE examinations, I have every reason to believe that the quality of instructions in the classrooms will be of the usual high standard.”
Temporary arrangements updated
Walwyn, in the meantime, suggested that teaching is likely to be done in the temporary locations for the remainder of the first term.
He stated that, starting October 5 to November 6, children from 3 to 8 years old, along with those who attended Eslyn Henley Richez Learning Centre, will receive daily learning sessions and meals between 9am and 3pm at the following early childhood centre locations:
-Cappoon’s Bay Basketball Court
-Sea Cow’s Bay Methodist Church
-E Walwyn Brewley Softball Park in Road Town
-Baugher’s Bay Basketball Court
-Green Land Soccer Grounds
The education minister also announced that, on the island of Virgin Gorda, Pastor Peter D’Abreau of Cornerstone School has offered to host students who are 3 to 8 years old. While accepting the offer, he noted that the initial plan was for the students to be relocated to the grounds of Bregado Flax Educational Centre. William Penn has offered to assist in transporting children from North Sound to the Valley on Virgin Gorda to attend school, Walwyn disclosed.
On the island of Tortola, Elmore Stoutt High students in Grades 10 to 12 will begin sessions at the old Clarence Thomas Limited (CTL) building in Pasea Estate on October 5.
“Students in grades 10 and 12 will be on shift 1 from 8-12pm, and students in grade 11 will be on shift 2 from 1-5pm,” Walwyn said.
He added that preparations are being made to have junior school students (grades 7 to 9) housed at the old CTL building ‘on a carefully orchestrated shift system’ between 8am and 12 noon, beginning November 6′.
That arrangement, Walwyn reasoned, would provide the opportunity to have all public secondary students in one location. “This therefore means that the shifts for grades 10 through 12 will be readjusted on the 6th of November,” he added.
The education minister, in the meantime, reiterated that all students of the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies (VISTS) should report to school on October 5 at 8:40am for the start of their regular school day. Their institution received very little damage during the hurricanes, Walwyn said.
“As was the case prior to Hurricane Irma, students of VISTS will have a full day of school. That is to say that the school day will commence at 8:40am and will end at 3:30pm.”
Walwyn said transportation will be provided to and from Trellis Bay for students of Virgin Gorda who attend VISTS.
He stated that, back on the island of Virgin Gorda, all students from Grades 7 to 12 will attend school at Bregado Flax Educational Centre (primary division) on a shift basis, beginning October 5. Grades 7 to 9 students will attend the said school from 8am to 12 noon, while grades 10-12 students will attend from 1-5pm.
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