Minister for Education, Roy Bodden, and Minister for Health Gilbert McLean recently visited Savannah and Bodden Town primary schools to view the newly- installed modular classrooms and to assess the status of the rebuilding process.
They were accompanied by Deputy Permanent Secretary for Education Mrs. Mary Rodrigues, and Project Manager for the schools recovery process, Mr. Jim Scott.
Due to the extensive damage caused by Ivan, the temporary classrooms are a short-term solution until phase two of the rebuilding programme-to repair school buildings and roofs-is completed. Four temporary classrooms are being used at Savannah Primary and one at the Bodden Town school. The new classrooms hold about 30 students, states a GIS press release.
Savannah Primary School Principal Mrs. Lorna Blackman explained that widespread damage had reduced space to the point where classrooms were being shared by up to 45 students: ‘It is good to get our own space back. It is so much easier for both teachers and students. We still plan to continue to team teach, as it has been a very successful system. Each teacher can focus on one subject, which allows them to do more thorough preparation.’
Mr. Bodden said he was aware there were concerns about the safety of the temporary classrooms’ foundations. However, after visiting the sites and speaking with teachers, students and Mr. Scott, he was pleased to confirm that there is no cause for concern: ‘I am satisfied that the needs of students and teachers are being well served by the temporary classrooms. I am also pleased to learn that additional measures are planned to further secure the foundations.’ He added that he hoped the joint visits with Minister McLean, responsible for the Public Works Department, would be seen as evidence of the importance they both placed on the safety and welfare of students and teachers.
Lack of storage space has also been a major obstacle for schools that suffered damage. In an effort to resolve this, twelve 40ft containers have been ordered by the Ministry of Education, with six arriving early this week. The containers will free much needed classroom space, explained Mr. Scott: ‘In some cases, classrooms are being used to store school materials, delaying renovation work. Two classrooms at Bodden Town are currently being used for storage, but when the containers arrive, it will relieve the pressure and we can start the repair work.’ The first six containers have already been allocated; George Hicks and John Gray will each receive two, while Savannah and Bodden Town will both have one.
The second and final stage of the rebuilding process is currently underway at both schools. At Bodden Town Primary, roof repairs began last week with the delivery and installation of new roof frames. The pre-fabricated trusses, which were built on the island, are being installed on an entire classroom block that lost its roof.
‘At the moment the buildings are wide open to the weather. As soon as we get the roof completed, then work can begin on the interiors. We hope to be finished at Bodden Town by May and Savannah by June,’ said Mr. Scott.
Work is also continuing on reinforcing the existing roof frame at Savannah Primary, as well as repairs to the school kitchen which will reopen as soon as work is completed.