ST. THOMAS — St. John students attending the Julius E. Sprauve School and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School started the new school year on Monday. Education Commissioner Sharon McCollum is asking parents to send children to classes in uniform and with a daily supply of drinking water.
The two schools missed the scheduled start for public schools in the St. Thomas-St. John district while workmen put in extra hours cleaning up damage and debris left by September’s Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6 and Hurricane Maria on Sept 19-20.
Workmen at Sprauve School have boarded off blown out windows on the second floor of the main building at JESS, and spent several days patching and painting the roof. Cleanup at Kean High addressed structural damage, flooding, the security booth and restoration of power.
Damage to the Clarice Thomas Annex — including loss of the building’s roof — led officials to place JESS’s primary and middle school on a staggered schedule. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 will attend from 8 a.m. to 12 Noon. JESS students in Grades 6, 7 and 8 will attend from 11 a.m.to 4 p.m.
McCollum said damage to the freezer at the School Lunch Program building has led to a modified meal program. Sandwiches will be offered in a modified breakfast menu. Box lunches will be provided with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The commissioner said officials recognize some families lost their possessions when their homes were damaged by the twin storms. As a result, some students may not be able to report to school dressed in uniforms.
“It was the high school students who were telling their parents they didn’t have to wear uniforms,” she said. Administrators are being told they can relax the uniform rules in some cases until parents have a chance to obtain them.
More importantly, she said, is for student identification cards to be worn. Parents are also encouraged to have immunizations brought up to date.
School bus transportation is being provided on St. Thomas. McCollum said officials will consult with the Water and Power Authority and Public Works to see if roads are clear enough to allow school buses to accommodate students on St. John.
Updates on school readiness and daily announcements can be heard over WSTA-AM 1340 between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. Parents and guardians are encouraged by the Education Commissioner to tune in.