Floods and power outages recently dislocated Jost Van Dyke Primary School students once again, and a new school that was due to be complete in September has now been delayed until January.
Following “unprecedented rains” on Oct. 27-29, officials decided that students should stay home and learn remotely on Oct. 30, according to a Nov. 1 statement from the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports.
The next morning, the JVDPS principal reported “swampy” conditions and “water seepage” in the classrooms, and students were asked to remain home again until the situation could be remedied, the statement added.
No updates have been issued since then, and a ministry official said Tuesday that the only people who could provide information were unavailable through the end of this week. The official did not comment on an online report published Monday stating that JVDPS students would join the island’s secondary school cohort in commuting to Tortola through mid-December.
A call to JVDPS was disconnected after this reporter introduced himself, and no one answered when he attempted to call back.
Meanwhile, a new school for the students has also been delayed again. In August 2022, government signed a $4.3 million contract with Quality Construction Limited for the construction of the multi-purpose facility. Already by that time, the project — which is now being overseen by the Recovery and Development Agency — had been long delayed.
Classes in a bar
JVD’s existing primary school sustained major damage in Hurricane Irma in 2017, and since then mould and other issues frequently forced students to attend class in temporary facilities.
Earlier in 2022, for instance, they were housed at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar while remedial work was carried out at the existing school.
When the contract was signed for the new facility, officials said the completion target was September of this year.
In the Nov. 1 statement, the ministry explained the most recent delays.
“The ministry had hoped that the new school would have been ready for our teachers and students at the beginning of the school year in September, but was notified of delays to the project in July 2023, which extended the end date to Oct. 15, 2023,” the statement noted.
That Oct. 15 target became Dec. 15 after the ministry received a report from the RDA on Oct. 25, the ministry added.
“The report stated that as a result of material delay, primarily due to protracted lead times in procurement and logistical challenges experienced by the contractor, the new move-in date is now set to January 2024,” the statement noted.
In ‘final stages’ Despite the pushed deadlines, government maintained that construction is a pressing matter.
“For this reason, the construction of the new school remains an urgent priority and is currently in the final stages of completion,” the ministry stated.