Twenty-four of the territory’s 63 schools and day care centres now meet the minimum requirements established in the School Health and Safety Policy approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture, according to Government Information Services.

Agape Total Life Academy, Century House Montessori School, Vision Child Development Centre and Willows Day Care are the latest recipients of the “SAFE Schools” certificate administered by the Department of Disaster Management.

The assessment checklist examines factors such as location, safety design features, the condition of playgrounds and equipment, laboratory safety procedures, fire safety, training, security, evacuation and disaster planning procedures.

Presenting the schools’ principals with their certificates, DDM Deputy Director Evangeline Inniss commended recipients and encouraged them to maintain the required standards.

“Last year, we had ten schools certified and we are happy to be awarding the certification to another four schools so soon,” Ms. Inniss said. “We have been very pleased with the level of interest shown by school administrators in addressing the issues outlined in the assessment reports.”

However, she added that several more schools remain to be certified.

“There are 63 schools and day care centres registered in the BVI, and our goal is to ensure that they all achieve the SAFE School certification,” she said. “They have all been assessed, and we will continue working with them to guide them through the retrofitting and other non-structural work that is necessary to achieve this important certification.”

Schools are required to score a minimum of 80 percent on the assessment checklist to be awarded the SAFE School certification, which is valid for three years.

Certified schools are encouraged to work towards the “SMART School” designation, which will be awarded based on health and safety requirements as well climate change initiatives and green practices, according to GIS.