NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd announced yesterday 13 public schools on Grand Bahama will reopen on Wednesday.
The schools have been shuttered since the deadly passage of Hurricane Dorian on September 1- 3.
Lloyd said all the schools have secured the necessary approvals from the Department of Public Works and Department of Environmental Health in order to reopen.
Among those schools are Freeport Primary, Walter Parker Primary, Bartlett Hill Primary, Lewis Yard Primary, Martin Town Primary, Holmes Rock Primary, West End Primary, Jack Hayward Junior High, Sister Mary Patricia Junior High, Jack Hayward Senior High, St. George’s Senior High, Eight Mile Rock Secondary and Beacon School.
School administrators, support staff and teachers are expected to return on Wednesday, while students will return on Thursday.
“I wish to reiterate that every school that we have scheduled for reopening is safe for occupancy,” Lloyd said, during a press conference at the ministry’s University Drive head office.
“I have been informed that donors have ensured all of our schools will be adequately supplied with bottled waters, so that all of our students will have access to safe drinking water.”
The education minister noted that some repair work will continue on various campuses but promised that those works “will not interfere nor compromise the health and safety of anyone, nor will they in any way negatively impact daily operations”.
Lloyd added mental health professionals will be dispatched to schools this week.
As for other schools on the island, Lloyd noted that works are continuing at Genesis Academy, the Haven School, Maurice Moore Primary and the Hugh Campbell Primary School.
He said Maurice Moore and Hugh Campbell are slated to reopen next Monday, adding both staff and students will be expected to return on that day.
Lloyd added staff and students from East Grand Bahama have been reassigned to schools in the Freeport area and urged anyone unaware of where they have been posted to contact the District Education Office for further details.
Schools in Abaco have remained closed since the storm battered the island over a month ago.
With thousands of the island’s residents evacuated to New Providence and other Family Islands, some 1,400 Abaco students are expected to be placed in public schools across the capital.
Yesterday, Lloyd praised efforts in North and South Abaco that have already moved ahead to provide education for students.
“We are particularly pleased with the self-help efforts which permitted the unofficial opening of schools,” he said.
“Students are receiving instruction from teachers and volunteers in the public schools at Crossing Rocks, Cherokee Sound, Sandy Point, Moore’s Island, Fox Town and Green Turtle Cay.
“It is planned that teachers and students living in the Cooper’s Town area will meet at a site to be determined sometime this week.
“In total, we expect that in excess of 400 students in Abaco will be receiving instruction by the end of this week.”
Lloyd said: “…In addition to the support that we have been providing to some of these efforts via Virtual Schools program, plans are underway to complete assessments and to affect the repairs needed to ensure that these schools are fully functioning.”
The Ministry of Public Works is still unable to ascertain how much school repairs on Abaco will cost.
Yesterday, Director of Public Works Melanie Roach said the preparation of the scopes of works and the pricing of those works are ongoing and should be completed in about two weeks.