Emergency Interim solution for students and staff of Leonard Connor School

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports Hon. Ms Silveria Jacobs


PHILIPSBURG – Over the past week it has become blatantly clear that an emergency solution is needed to deal with the health challenges being experienced by staff and students of the Leonard Connor School.

The Government has started to take several steps to deal with this pending situation, however, all these steps will require several weeks to come to fruition. The school was thoroughly cleaned and authorities were convinced that the worst was over, however, the smell of gases was once again too much to bear on Friday last.

The Ministry of VROMI will commission an independent study to be carried out to ascertain the levels of toxic gases being emitted into the environment by all industries operating in the Cay Bay area, as well as to ascertain what levels are affecting the population, including the staff and students at the Leonard Connor School, who have been experiencing it with alarming frequency.

The Fire Department, and Inspectors of VROMI and VSA have carried out several investigations over the past weeks and have not been able to conclude that any alarming levels of toxic gas were recorded in the area. The industries operating in this area will continue to be monitored.

This information was passed on to the parents and staff of the school recently in a meeting held at the school. As students and staff continue to experience illness, shortness of breath and other symptoms, a deeper and more comprehensive study is needed to ascertain exactly what is causing the rising distress as well as what can be done to alleviate such.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS), which is obligated to ensure the education of its students, has also fast tracked the repairs urgently needed at the school to be able to install air conditioners in all classrooms currently not equipped with such, as all measurements taken in the past few weeks had shown zero parts per million of toxic gas in those rooms and offices. Said repairs will be prioritized and are slated to start in the coming week.

In view of the urgency for the Ministry ECYS and all other stakeholders, to provide the staff and students with a solution as well as to inform the parents in a timely fashion via the media, parents and guardians are hereby informed that the decision has been taken to close the school while the necessary repairs take place. As a result thereof, the students and staff will be dispersed to other locations in order to avoid any further unnecessary disruption in educating the students.

Parents are asked to take note that there will be no classes for students of the Leonard Connor School on Monday, November 7, and Tuesday, November 8, in order for the school’s management and staff to make the necessary preparations to be able to execute the move. Our goal is to have classes resume for our students at the designated locations on Wednesday, November 9.

All are reminded that this is an emergency situation calling for the cooperation from all and will require major adjustments by all concerned. Management and Staff of the school will be required to report to school tomorrow, Monday, November 7, as usual where further information will be disseminated and the logistics will be worked out for this interim emergency solution.

An emergency meeting will also be held on Monday evening with parents to further explain this temporary emergency solution, which will require their cooperation as well in the interest of ensuring their children’s safety and secure the possibility for teaching and learning to take place.

Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs would like to assure all concerned that this situation is being taken very seriously and in no way does the Ministry want to do anything to damage the health and well-being of our students and staff. We are taking all necessary steps to deal with this situation.

The Ministers of VROMI, VSA and General Affairs are also involved with their respective Ministries to get the investigations moving to ensure that the Public Health of the community can be assured. The Government is committed to dealing with this issue head on.