Following weeks of discussions with contractors and a final walkthrough of the Arthur A. Richards. Jr. High School modular campus on Friday, Jan. 25, Acting Education Commissioner Dionne Wells-Hedrington announced that the Stoney Ground-area school will officially open on Monday, Feb. 11, to students and staff.
Arthur Richards’ administrators and staff will be given beneficial occupancy on Feb. 4, Wells-Hedrington explained, in order to move supplies onto the campus and set up their offices and classrooms.
News of the opening was met with enthusiasm from the school, which has occupied the upper level of the John H. Woodson Jr. High School campus since last September. Arthur Richards also had an abbreviated school day, like other displaced schools in the district, on the campus of St. Croix Educational Complex High School during the 2017-18 school year due to the destruction of the Richards school building by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
While classrooms and most other areas of the modular campus will be ready on Feb. 11, the acting commissioner said the kitchen, which is housed in one of three expansive, state-of-the-art Sprung structures, is still under construction.
“We will satellite food to the school until the kitchen is completed,” she said.
In addition to the kitchen, internet connectivity throughout the campus will be ongoing for a period of time.
Arthur Richards modular campus, constructed by American multinational engineering firm AECOM, boasts 48 buildings comprised of 34 classrooms, including four specially designed for special education; three computer labs, three bathrooms; an administration building; a library; two teacher-planning facilities; and a cafeteria and gymnasium housed in separate Sprung structures.
Classrooms and buildings are fully equipped with desks, chairs, shelving, promethean boards and other necessary furnishings. The campus can accommodate a student population of 810, according to officials.
“It’s been a long time coming, and we are very excited to finally get our students and staff back into their school,” Wells-Hedrington said.
The acting commissioner received a guided tour of the Richards campus from AECOM officials and was joined by St. Croix school district officials, Dr. Maria Encarnacion, Ericilda Ottley-Herman and Dr. Carla Bastian; Sen. Novelle Francis and Sen. Steven Payne; Teachers Union President Rosa Soto-Thomas; and Department of Education Joseph Sibilly, territorial director of maintenance, and Alan Fleming, engineer.
Arthur Richards Junior High School was the last of the territory’s public schools displaced by hurricanes Irma and Maria that hit the region in September 2017.