Oct. 17, 2008 — It's back to school for all public school students and University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) students on St. Croix next week. But it will be a busy weekend ensuring facilities are up to snuff.
According to a Department of Education statement Friday, St. Croix Superintendent Gary Molloy said he and his colleagues will be out in "full force" over the weekend to help ensure all public schools are cleaned up, repaired and ready for students on Tuesday. Molloy said the district gains an extra clean-up day, courtesy of a Monday conference.
"All district schools will be closed on Monday to facilitate the annual AFT (American Federation of Teachers) Mini Quest, so this gives us some additional time to really get into the schools and do what is needed," Molloy said. Work will continue throughout the weekend, he said, to ensure that the Educational Complex and Career and Technical Center are up and running by Sunday to host the Monday conference.
In the meantime, the focus is on regaining electricity and water at all schools, and that " a thorough cleanup of debris and other aesthetics can be completed prior to their re-opening."
Electricity and cleanup issues are forcing the continued closure of the UVI St. Croix library, according to a statement released by the university. However, the library is slated to re-open Monday and classes are "tentatively" slated to begin Monday. A statement from the university encouraged students to stay tuned to radio updates, or to call the St. Croix hotline number: 692-4168. Meanwhile, St. Croix students can begin returning to dorms on Sunday, after 3 p.m.
The St. Thomas campus is fully functional.
As for public schools, the real headache is Eulalie Rivera Elementary School, according to superintendent Molloy. A large tree is resting on the main building, and there are downed utility poles on campus as well as a pumping station that is leaking raw sewage as a result of power loss.
The district has been working with the Water and Power Authority, the Public Works Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the V.I. Army National Guard to get the schools and other activity centers online, according to the superintendent. In addition, he said HOVENSA has offered to assist with landscaping and debris removal, and agencies and community members have also chipped in.
"We are moving along at a better pace than anticipated, Molloy said. "Our maintenance crew has made an incredible dent in the area of debris removal as they got in there and cut trees that were blocking entrances and stairways."
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