SCHOOLS ACROSS THE state, most of which are designated emergency shelters, will remain closed to in-school learning until further notice.
This was announced by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves at the first of two emergency press conferences held yesterday, April 8, due to the heightened activity at La Soufriere volcano.
At the first press conference, the Prime Minister made a declaration in respect of a stage three disaster alert, acknowledging that there is a substantial prospect of a volcanic disaster to strike within a period of hours, days or weeks.
The country was still on orange alert at that time as it had been since an effusive eruption began in December 2020. This alert indicated high levels of seismicity or fumurolic activity or both, and that eruptions may occur with less than 24 hours notice.
Schools were set to open this coming Monday, April 12, and the overriding concern before yesterday was how many teachers had taken and will take a Coivd-19 vaccination before schools reopen.
However, the Prime Minister noted at the first emergency press conference that, “as a consequence of this declaration, events have overtaken us in respect of the reopening of the schools.
“Therefore, the schools will not be reopened on… Monday the 12th of April, and… we will expect as far as is practicable for online teaching and learning to continue within less than two weeks time,” he stated at that time, speaking from the Cabinet room.
Teaching will therefore continue on-line.
Thousands of tablets have already been distributed to the Community College,
Secondary and Primary School students, and teachers, and another consignment is set to arrive in the country within two weeks.
“…the grade fives in the Kingstown area will get, and grade four down would also get from this new lot coming. That’s what I’ve been advised,” the Prime Minister had informed at the Cabinet room press conference.
He clarified that schools will be closed until further notice.
However, in the second emergency press conference held a few hours later, the Prime Minister had received information from the scientists about a change in the behaviour of the volcano, which led to him issuing an evacuation order for the persons living in the red zone.
While the Prime Minister did not delve into details at this conference, he had mentioned at the earlier press conference, “if we have an explosive eruption and you’re talking about a period of evacuation lasting up to about four months, well obviously, at the appropriate time, when that happens, we will have to speak in terms of when it is likely that school would return to face to face classes.”
Several teachers had begun to prepare their classrooms for the resumption of in-person learning and hundreds of students were also looking forward to returning to the classroom; the eruption has dashed those expectations.