ASPS students to be sent to other schools

The content originally appeared on: The BVI Beacon

Students from Althea Scatliffe Primary School will be relocated to other schools when they return to class for the fall semester, according to Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sharie De Castro.

Officials closed the school on June 17 due to structural issues.

“This immediate action was in response to concerns expressed by the staff, faculty and parents about the many structural issues plaguing the school,” Ms. De Castro said in a July 29 statement. “These complaints included the fact that sections of the roof had already caved in, other portions were breaking more frequently, and the teachers were uneasy every day in the building.”

After the closure, officials in her ministry started planning how best to relocate students while the building is out of commission, and they came up with two options, according to the minister.

At first, they tried to find a space large enough to accommodate everyone together. That includes about 375 students, 40 staff members, 15 students with special needs enrolled with the Eslyn Henley Richez Learning Centre, and six additional staff members, Ms. De Castro said.

“This search included exploring available commercial spaces or erecting temporary spaces,” she added.

The search, however, ultimately wasn’t successful, and so officials decided instead to place students and staff in existing schools around the territory, according to the minister.

Relocation

Enis Adams Primary will take students from grades five and six, as well as their siblings. Francis Lettsome Primary will take students from grades three and four; Enid Scatliffe Pre-primary will accommodate 24 to 30 students from grade two; and any remaining grade two students will be placed in schools closest to their residence, Ms. De Castro explained.

“Where space is available, students residing in outlying communities may be accommodated at the school nearest them,” she added.

Ms. De Castro also said that her ministry would cover the cost of transportation to assigned schools as needed, and students would be allowed to continue wearing their ASPS uniforms if they choose.

“We are working assiduously to ensure that the Enis Adams Primary School and Francis Lettsome Primary School are ready to accommodate the temporary changes to facilitate the increase in numbers at the respective learning institutions,” Ms. De Castro said.

Torn down?

Meanwhile, ASPS will either get major repairs or be torn down, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said during a press conference on July 1.

He added that the company Systems Engineering inspected the building and found serious spalling issues, where steel in the roof was expanding and pushing off the concrete. He attributed this problem in part to the use of porous construction materials like beach sand when the school was built.

“At this particular stage, you have chunks of concrete falling from the roof,” he said.

Last November, a classroom ceiling caved in while the school was empty during a weekend.

If the school isn’t demolished, the premier said, faulty concrete would need to be chipped off the roof and other parts of the building.

“What I think is clear to everyone is that the school … either needs to be renovated or demolished and rebuilt,” Dr. Wheatley said.

Ms. De Castro said on July 29 that further assessments are being carried out to decide which option to pursue.

In an Aug. 8 press conference, Dr. Wheatley said a decision would come from Ms. De Castro “in the next couple of months.”