Hurricane Earl Forces St. John Schools to Open Three Days Late

Parents check their children for the first day of school at Guy H. Benjamin School in Coral Bay.

Public and private schools across St. John and the territory finally opened on Thursday, September 2, three days later than planned.

Hurricane Earl forced the Department of Education and private school administrations to delay the planned opening of schools on Monday, August 30. Instead, teachers and faculty reported to their respective schools that day, but not for class. They helped prepare the buildings for the storm.

All students and faculty got the year underway on three days later, on September 2.

In Coral Bay, the Guy Benjamin School suffered minimal damage, with only debris strewn about the grounds and a downed telephone pole. The pole, however, was connected to the basketball court behind the school, and did not affect electrical current to the school.

At Gifft Hill School, students were getting back into the swing of classes at both the upper and lower campuses. Several new faculty members at the school had their first brush with the frustration of storm season.

After having readied their classrooms over the weekend of August 27, they returned on Sunday, August 29, and packed their supplies away once again.

Besides several downed tree branches, the worst damage at GHS was one tree which was uprooted in the school’s new playground area and damaged part of the new fencing.

Julius E. Sprauve School suffered minimum damage as well. Bushes near the Clarice Thomas Annex were damaged and cleared. A new fence, which was installed around main campus, held up well through the storm.

During the summer, officials also installed a new exit in front of JESS, allowing for the school’s transportation provider to access the area without blocking others.

St. Thomas public schools and Antilles School also welcomed students back on September 2.
Dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Earl forced Governor John deJongh to cancel his planned visit to St. John schools on September 2.