(T&T GUARDIAN) – Four primary schools will remain closed tomorrow, at the start of the new school term, mainly as a result of post-earthquake damage. They have been deemed unfit by the Ministry of Education through its structural engineers.
The schools are Curepe Anglican, Forest Reserve Anglican School, Santa Maria RC, and Dayanand Memorial Vedic School.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia made the announcement at a press conference at the ministry’s headquarters yesterday, where three pressing issues were addressed—infrastructure and readiness pertaining to schools, stipend negotiation for principals of private secondary schools, and TTUTA’s call for a solidarity boycott on Friday.
The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday. Garcia assured everything was being done to get these schools reopened in a timely manner.
Garcia said following the 6.9 earthquake on August 21, 66 schools were flagged for attention as they sustained various degrees of damage.
He said the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Works and Transport were able to begin structural assessments of these school within two days of the earthquake to ascertain the damage and to get a comprehensive report on areas of repairs.
Other schools listed are St Benedict’s College, Holy Faith Convent Penal, Holy Name Convent, Diego Martin North Secondary School, and Diego Martin Girls’ RC.
Garcia said St Paul’s Anglican School will also remain closed after officials of the City of San Fernando Corporation stated it was unfit for students to return to the building tomorrow.
Other schools awaiting assessments include Nipal Presbyterian, Pt Cumana Government Primary School, and St Phillip’s Government Primary. Garcia said after some cracks were discovered in the latter school, the ministry advised the school be closed until further assessment.
La Romaine Secondary School will also remain closed, but it is due to electrical work being completed.
“I want to be honest and make the point that delay is not because of the earthquake. That school must have its entire electricity fittings looked at so that there would be no recurrence of a fire that happened some time in late May,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the ministry was also observing schools particularly in the Central area as there were possibilities they could have structural damage to the sewer systems.
Asked what would be the interim accommodation for students, Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said they have already identified some options to move forward. He said the relocation of students involves the process of all stakeholders who must give the necessary approval.
“For a number of these cases which warrant relocation of students to other venues, that has kicked in already. I suppose by the middle of the week some definite positions would be made,” said Seecharan.