Government officials closed the doors of Althea Scatliffe Primary School on June 17 after receiving a report detailing concerns with the structural integrity of the building. (Photo: DANA KAMPA)

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports decided to close Althea Scatliffe Primary School effective June 17 after officials received a report documenting the school’s recent inspection.

“The report recommended that the use of the school building be suspended immediately,” according to a press release issued that day. “A primary concern in the report is the structural integrity of the building.”

The press release continued, “Based on this information, the ministry agrees that the best option is to err on the side of caution by prioritising the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”

Though the school closed at 4:30 p.m. June 17, the statement said ministry staff would make arrangements with the principal to secure furnishings and student documents from the school. The principal, faculty and staff were notified of the decision that morning.

Upcoming events scheduled to be held at the school will be relocated, the press release stated, though it didn’t provide further details.

“The ministry apologises for any inconvenience caused as it works to ensure the safety of all users of the building,” it stated.

Irma aftermath

In November 2017, ASPS became a home to students displaced from Enis Adams Primary, Enid Scatliffe Pre-primary, and Elsyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre after those buildings sustained damage from hurricanes Irma and Maria.

However, the school dealt with structural issues of its own when a classroom ceiling caved in last November.

The facility was empty at the time, which coincided with a teacher protest of crumbling infrastructure and stagnant wages in schools around the territory.

The sickout came to an end with promises from the government to address the concerns.

Then-Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley told the Beacon at the time that the ceiling had collapsed in one classroom. Students were then moved to share a room with another class.

“We are working hard to rectify it,” he said at the time.

He also told Virgin Islands Daily News that the roof had been “severely damaged.”

The June 17 press release did not specify whether the roof ’s stability was in question.