Operational repairs to nineteen schools, prioritized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport (MECYS) are set to begin under the School Repairs activity of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund. Working in close collaboration with MECYS, various school boards and school managers, the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) has been intensively preparing to ensure a smooth process with as minimal disruption as possible to students, parents and teachers.
Repair works have been separated into three batches as it would be near impossible to relocate all nineteen schools at the same time. Repairs to the first three schools, which include the Leonald Conner School, the Sr. Regina School and the St. Joseph School, are expected to take approximately 100 days should no unanticipated issues be found during works. The construction time per school depends on various factors, including the extent of damages, the size of the school, and if the premises will be completely vacated during works or not. Works on a second batch of schools are anticipated to begin mid-May and the larger third batch later in the year.
The School Repairs activity, as part of the Emergency Recovery Project 1, focuses on ensuring that schools are watertight, more hurricane resilient and safe to use under regular conditions. The scope of works will include mold and asbestos assessment and removal/ remediation, roof repairs, fencing, electrical work, plumbing, replacing of broken windows and doors, and the installation of hurricane shutters. Should any structural issues be found during inspections or works, these will also be included to ensure a safe school environment.
During the repair period the regular school environment will not be in use. An Education Logistics Plan has been developed with each individual school board and management team so that education to students is impacted as little as possible during works. Plans may include full relocation off school premises where all students and teachers will move to one or more alternative locations with in-person lessons. Plans may also include partial relocation where just part of the school population will move off premises, while the remainder of the students utilize sections of the school not undergoing works in that period. The last Plan employs support to E-learning which will result in scheduling that includes 2-3 days of in-person classes on premises or elsewhere and the remainder of the week online. Once the construction works have been completed, the NRPB will continue to work with the school management teams to arrange moving back into the repaired premises.
Specific plans per school will be communicated to parents and guardians by their child’s school management. In addition, engagement sessions are being organized to connect virtually with the teachers, parents and guardians of all schools close to their respective repair start dates. These sessions will be held in collaboration with the school boards, management teams and the NRPB. During the works period, the school management teams will remain the main points of contact for teachers and parents’ concerns related to specific school and educational accommodations.