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Winair announces official commercial operations as of October 10

SIMPSON BAY - Winair would like to inform its customers that their anticipated startup of commercial operations on Friday October 6th has been postponed to Tuesday October 10th, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.  

“Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher has announced this morning (Wednesday, October 4, 2017) that SXM Airport will be open to accept commercial flights per October 10, 2017. 

“Winair will operate limited scheduled service to the destinations Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barth, Antigua and St. Kitts. The three (3) Curacao - St. Maarten - Curacao flights will operate only as currently scheduled this Thursday October 5, Saturday October 7 and Tuesday October 10.”

For bookings visit Winair’s website www.fly-winair.sx or your preferred travel agent. 

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Ministry VSA: Responsibilities of the Employers, Rights of the Employees

POND ISLAND – The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (MinVSA), issued the following press release related to businesses and employees.  “On Wednesday 6 September 2017, our island was hit with a devastating hurricane. As a result, many persons lost their lives, homes, businesses and other property.

“We sympathize with all who lost property and loved ones. However, in the wake of hurricane Irma, we appeal to all employers to practice good business practices and integrity when dealing with your employees. We understand the extenuating circumstances at hand, and therefore, encourage both employers and employees to cooperate and act in accordance with the labor laws of the land.

“We encourage employers firstly to communicate with their employees. The worse thing to do in a time like this is to abandon your staff completely. Invite employees to a central location and discuss with them the damages to the building and merchandise and the consequences thereof. Business owners may want to discuss payment and employment options with their staff on an individual basis. Be honest and direct, but give them options.

“We urge businesses as much as feasible to retain their staff. In an effort to do this, employers may want to reallocate or reassign staff members to different departments or duties. Perhaps it may be necessary that persons take on different roles for the time being to suit the immediate needs of the business for a time. We ask that workers also be flexible to accept reallocation of tasks or responsibilities.

“If the labor contract between the company and the employee allows, payment options can be discussed. All agreements outside of what is written in the labor contract must be mutual and in written form such as for example a reduction in working days or wages. Note also that the written agreement must be in accordance with the labor laws of the land. Any employers seeking assistance with drafting a sound mutual agreement can consult legal assistance or visit the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services.

“Although, we strongly encourage businesses to seek means whereby they can maintain their staff, if dismissals must take place permission must still be requested by the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services (applicable for employees in indefinite employ).  There is also an option of rescinding employment relationships through the courts. All persons under contract must be paid out for the remainder of their contractual period if the contract is not being extended, and given due notice. To reiterate, at present time, businesses have one of three options:

1) Retain employee through mutual agreement in writing (terms to include job duties, payment, work hours, etc.)

2) Mutual agreement in writing for termination of labor agreement ( to include severance payments, notice period, all outstanding vacation days and days worked)

3) Dismissal (through the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services)  

4) Dismissal (through the court or legal system)

“An important notice for employers is that payment must be upheld for the periods of time when a national curfew was issued by the government of St. Maarten. Employees must not be financially penalized for these times since they were unable to work due to no fault of their own; therefore, they must be paid for those periods. Note also that the “No Work, No Pay” policy does not apply in this situation. If workers want to work, but are unable to work because their place of work is closed, damaged or employers have migrated, they are still entitled to their wages.

“Any employer or employee with questions concerning pay, dismissal, nature of work, work hours, etc. should visit the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services and ask to speak to a Dismissal and Complaints Officer. We are currently located in the new government building across from the University of St. Martin (USM). Employees also have a right to apply for legal aid to contest any unlawful dismissal from their employer, or any action that they deem infringes on their rights.

“Again, the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services encourages employers and employees to act responsibly and with integrity during this time. We encourage both parties to work together as the nation rebuilds. In order for the economy to revive, we must adjust, regroup and rebuild. We can rebuild and we will- together.” 

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Without Government Support USM will have to Close its Doors. Government given Notice

POND ISLAND - Yesterday the Board of the USM sent a letter to the Honourable Minister of Education Culture Youth & Sports, Ms. Silveria Jacobs, informing her that if the government of Sint Maarten does not finally take up its responsibility to provide the USM with an increase of the annual subsidy of 3Million Antillean Guilders, the institution will have to close its doors as of the end of November!

It’s a do or die scenario. The 850.000 Antillean Guilders that the institution currently receives, which boils down to less than 1% of the country’s annual budget allocated to education, will not suffice given post Irma conditions.

USM depends heavily on tuitions from primarily students who either work in the tourist industry and its service related spinoffs, or whose parents do. This is the group, the bulk of the St. Martiners in fact, who have suffered major losses. Many of their homes were damaged; many are staying with families and friends or accommodating family and friends.

And to make matters worse they have been laid off (or fear that they will have to ‘accept’ a salary reduction). In such a situation, they are rightfully asking for relieve or a grace period from the USM. The institution would gladly do so, but without a hard guarantee of the government of an increase in the annual subsidy of 3 Million Guilder, the USM cannot do so.

In fact, the 850.000 Antillean Guilders that USM currently receives from government is not enough to keep the doors of the institution open.    

This is not related to Irma per se as it was actually never enough, even in the days when Sint Maarten flourished. It is a known fact the Board stated that for many years the USM has been struggling financially. The Ministry of Education has known for quite some time that a yearly subsidy increase of ANG 3 million was needed to keep the institution afloat. The many petitions made to the government fell on deaf ears, supposedly because the USM was not accredited and did enjoy international renown.

In 2014 after a reorganization orchestrated by the President of the Board, Mrs. Valerie Giterson-Pantophlet, a new management team was put in place whose task was to professionalize the institution.

The strategy would only work if a silent donor of the private sector, who wishes to remain anonymous, agreed to continue financially supporting the USM. Without his support, the USM would have had to close shop many years ago. 

The Board’s investment in a new management team paid off. The USM secured several international level 5 accreditations for its Associate Degree programs in 3 years’ time, as well as being able to offer North American accredited Bachelor and Master Degrees via the UVI@USM partnership with the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). For the first time after obtaining their Associate degree on Sint Maarten, USM students could study in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.

This was highly appreciated by parents who understood that their children should gain some college and life experience before travelling to a big country. Besides the accreditations the USM also received international recognition due to the publications of its staff in international academic journals and edited volumes. As a result of these and other positive developments the USM’s student population registered a steady increase.

St. Martin’s society’s confidence in the institution rose leading the Board to take the bold step of announcing the construction of dorms and the overall expansion of the USM. A drive was planned to raise funds for the expansion. Again, the silent donor was instrumental.

He did however place as a non-negotiable condition for his continued financial support, namely, that the government of Sint Maarten would finally keep its promise. Without the government owning up to its responsibility to grant the USM it’s much needed annual subsidy of 3 Million Antillean Guilders he would not continue to silently subsidize the university. 

All this was to no avail. The government still did not make any concrete moves to properly fund the USM. In a press conference held on the 23rd of August 2017, the Minister of Education announced that they did not have the funds to raise the subsidy of USM and that they were still working on the Law of Tertiary Education.

Then came Hurricane Irma and the USM was once again expected to continue surviving without adequate government funding. It is the straw that has broken the camel’s back. The silent donor will not continue to do what the government of Sint Maarten should have been doing from day one, namely taking care of improving the educational and social resourcefulness of its population.

The Board and Management understand the decision, given that our donors and the entire business community too have suffered significant financial losses.  The President of the USM, Dr. Francio Guadeloupe stated,

“This is a sad day. It did not have to come to this. In fact, it still does not have to come to this. The USM is an institution founded in the golden days of St. Martin, the time of the Mullet Bay, by Dr. Claude Wathey and Ambassador Husang Ansari. They recognized that the island had arrived at a stage in its development that it needed a university to take care of those who could and did not want to travel abroad to enjoy a tertiary education: Level 5 Associate and eventually Bachelor and Master degrees. 

Scholarships abroad was one thing, making sure you had a university for those at home that would cater to the tourist industry and the islands direct needs was another. It was the task of the government whom the hardworking people of Sint Maarten had put into office to make sure that those who could go abroad and those who stayed at home enjoyed a sound education. Education, especially tertiary education that produces a competent and morally grounded citizen, is after all the motor of any development progress. This is known throughout the Caribbean. 

The USM came into existence and produced figures of renowned locally such as Mrs. Beulah Jonis, director of the St. Maarten Cable TV, Mr. Perry Wilson, successful banker at the FCIBC Bank, Ms. Irma Gumbs of the Windward Island Bank, Mr. Jeffrey de La Combe of Tropical Shipping, and successful entrepreneurs like Mr. Kenrick Housen of the Carls and Son’s Enterprise, to name but a few.

USM has also produced persons who went on to gain their PhDs in Canada and the USA like Dr. Royette Tavernier of Wesleyan University and Ms. Rolinda Carter of the University of British Columbia (who will be finishing up within a few months).  And we are witnessing a new batch with dynamic youngsters like Ralph Cantave, Rochana Richardson, Ms. Parina Lotlikar, Ms. Whitney Murray, who chose to study at the USM. In every field of work, one encounters the products of the USM.

All this was done, and continues to be done, without proper government funding. If Education matters, if tradition matters, if national pride matters, if the legacy of the late Dr. Claude Wathey and the late Commissioner Edgar Lynch who also supported the USM matters, then one can expect the government to do the right thing. They will fully support the USM with the increase in subsidy, which is supporting the people and the children of those persons who built and will rebuild St. Martin.”       

The Board of the USM laments the adverse effects the closing will have on both its staff and student population. It is now in the hands of government, as it always should have been, whether they will do their duty and take care of the educational needs of St. Maarteners. The USM awaits the reply of government as should every concerned St Maartener who believes that this island should have its own university. 

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Curfew hours have been reduced to 12 AM until 5 AM. Remains in effect until further notice

POND ISLAND – The Government of Sint Maarten together with the French Side authorities has decided to adjust the curfew from 12:00 AM until 5:00 AM as of today, Monday October 2nd. The new curfew hours will be in effect until further notice.

The joint decision was taken during a meeting on cross-border cooperation on Monday afternoon.

Residents are requested to respect the new curfew hours; the law enforcement authorities will conduct the necessary patrolling.

Maintaining the curfew enhances the public order and safety of businesses and residents. 

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Arrindell announces special WINAIR St. Maarten-Curacao round trip flight

POND ISLAND - Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher has announced a special commercial and repatriation WINAIR flight to service the St. Maarten-Curacao and Curacao-St. Maarten routes two times this week and once next week.

The once-a-day, round-trip flights will take place on Thursday, October 5, Saturday, October 7 and Tuesday, October 10. The maximum number of passengers on the SXM-CUR route will be 130 and CUR-SXM will be 145. WINAIR will utilize PAWA Dominicana aircraft via its wet lease agreement with that company.

The Minister stressed that the flights are designated as special commercial flights, so there will be a nominal fee that the passenger will have to pay. The flights are primarily meant to repatriate St. Maarten residents who hold a Dutch passport or valid residence permits. French nationals and/or French residents with valid documentation can also travel from Curacao to St. Maarten.

The Minister expressed her thanks to WINAIR for working with government to get the flights done for this week. She explained that the flights will be for one week only and revisited after the final flight next Tuesday.

She also said persons stuck in the US, for example, can book and to make their way to Curacao if they can to make their way home. “We realise that some may not be able to do so because of possible financial impediments, but until our airport is ready to accept full commercial flights, this is what we can do for now to get some of our folks home,” the Minister explained.

The Minister said WINAIR will be releasing information about booking on the three flights. Interested passengers should contact WINAIR.

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Back to School Message of Prime Minister William Marlin

POND ISLAND – On Sunday evening Prime Minister William Marlin issued the following back to school message.

People of St. Maarten, Especially All the Teachers, Students and Parents

Good morning/evening.

Monday, October 2nd will be four weeks since school was rudely and violently interrupted by the most powerful storm ever recorded in the history of the Atlantic Hurricane season. It has been four weeks of a gruesome, life-changing, traumatic experience and some may even question the wisdom of going back to school now, so soon after our island was so severely devastated by Hurricane Irma, which in seven horrifying hours, turned our lives upside down.

Indeed, government recognizes that many people are still hurting and that this may not be the ideal moment to resume school. Yes, there are teachers who have lost their homes, parents who are still trying to piece their lives together and students, many of whom have no previous experience of a calamity like a Category 5 monster storm, trying to make sense out of all the destruction.

I hear you and believe me when I say I feel your pain. As an educator for most of my life, nothing gives me more anguish than to see what you are going through and how many of our parents have been left with no other reasonable choice than to send their children away in order for these to be able to continue with their education elsewhere. I am sure had they known then that we would be reopening schools this soon, they would have taken a different decision.

But we have been through a similar situation before with Hurricane Luis. And if there is any lesson Luis taught us 22 years ago, it is that there is no ideal moment to resume school after a disaster the magnitude of a Hurricane Irma. Every opportunity to get our lives back on track should be grabbed with both hands. And if we truly believe in providing the best education we can for our youth, no matter the circumstances, then now is as good a time as any to start school again, especially seeing that our Minister of Education and the Education Recovery Team in conjunction with the various school boards, has done everything to make sure that the minimum standards are met to ensure that schools can begin again.

Reopening schools is a key element in our recovery and reconstruction efforts. Definitely, St. Maarten will never be the same again after Irma and Maria. I believe in the resilience of our people as demonstrated by the massive and collective clean up initiative that has made our various districts look as if they only suffered a few bruises here and there after the merciless pounding they endured just four weeks ago.

I commend that indomitable spirit which is part of the St. Maarten DNA. Yes, we may be knocked down by a vicious super-heavyweight storm, but we are back up long before the count and are dancing like a butterfly around the ring of life again.

A few days after Hurricane Irma hit us with all her might, I heard a young student on the radio say he wanted to know when schools will resume. More than just being bored at home, with no water or electricity, I believe that young student was really missing school. He was missing being in a classroom with his peers, learning and of course socializing. I am sure he missed his teacher, too. He knows that he needs the knowledge his teacher imparts on him, because intuitively, he realizes that knowledge is power and education is a right, not a privilege for our youth. It is, indeed, one of the universal rights that we cannot allow any hurricane to knock down.

To that student and others like him, I say welcome back to school. Your future and the future of this island that you are called to inherit depends on the kind of hunger for knowledge that you have shown.

I know it has not been easy for you, nor for your parents and teachers, but by the grace of God, here we are again, rearing to go, because we won't allow anything to stop us.

I want to seize this opportunity to thank all, and I mean ALL those who have helped in the recovery clean up, especially those who got our schools ready for reopening.

Government is also very grateful for the assistance received from our partners in the Kingdom, particularly the Dutch government, in providing materials and especially the temporary schools, desk, chairs and other materials.

Our National Recovery Plan is expected to be completed this week. It will serve as the blue print for the rebuilding of our young nation. Out of every disaster comes an opportunity for meaningful change that would lead to a brighter future. With the reopening of our schools, we are together taking a very significant step towards rebuilding a better, stronger, and smarter St. Maarten.

I am counting on each and every one of you - teachers, parents and students as well as school boards, education officials and the community at large, to make this a very successful school year in spite of all the odds.

This is St. Maarten.

God bless each and every one of you and God bless our beloved island.

I thank you.

Prime Minister of Sint Maarten,

William V. Marlin.

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SMCP LEADER SMITH: PARLIAMENT DRAGGING ITS FEET ON HURRICANE IRMA

PHILIPSBURG – “The Parliament of Sint Maarten finally convened last Monday, September 25th, to be updated by the Minister of General Affairs, the Honorable William Marlin, on the passing of hurricane Irma,” Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Wycliffe Smith said in a press statement on Sunday.

“An update, after two and a half weeks, to the highest representative body in the country, is unacceptable!  It took the Dutch Parliament less than a week (they met on September 12th) to deal with the hurricane situation in Sint Maarten. Two days after hurricane Irma, Minister Plaster of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations had already informed the Dutch Parliament by letter of the situation.

“In addition, the Dutch government has made preliminary plans with regard to recovery and financial aid while the Parliament of Sint Maarten is still to get a full and true account of what transpired pre- and post-Irma.

“After a two-hour presentation by the Minister of General Affairs, which did not give Parliament and the people a lot of new information, parliamentarians posed their questions to the Minister, who then needed two full days to prepare the answers. One would have then expected that after responding to Parliament’s questions on Thursday morning, that parliamentarians would have gone straightway into the second round of questioning.

“But no, this was not the case! The meeting for the second round was scheduled for Monday, October 2nd, four days later. If Parliament continues with this schedule, it will take them two whole weeks to be updated on hurricane Irma.

“Is Parliament aware of the fact that, after the passing of hurricane Irma, the country has already moved from crisis and emergency modes and is now in recovery mode? One would have expected that a disaster of this magnitude and gravity would been given greater priority. It is time that parliamentarians hear from the Minister of General Affairs what plans are being drafted by Government for the structural, emotional, financial and economic recovery of the country.

“According to the law, disaster preparedness and management are totally in the hands of the Minister of General Affairs. Article 8 states that he is authorized to give any and all instructions that he deems necessary. However, once a state of emergency is declared, the Prime Minister shares his authority with the Ministers of Justice and Telecommunication.

“Hence, if the Prime Minister is unable to answer questions concerning the curfew, the looting, poor communication and the blocking of the borders, then Parliament should call in the other two ministers for questioning. Since the Minister of General Affairs, does not know who gave orders to close the borders then the Minister of Justice ought to know because police officers, under his authority, were at the borders carrying out instructions.

“Something as serious as blocking an international border with a trailer and leaving that trailer unattended is extremely worrying. If the Minister of Justice cannot provide answers then Parliament should use its right of investigation to get to the bottom of this dispute.

“Observing the meeting of Parliament, I noticed a disconnect with and a disrespect for Parliament by the Minister of General Affairs. After all, in the chain of command, Parliament is the higher authority, yet the Minister does not seem to take Parliament very seriously. It was disrespectful to wait until after his presentation to inform the President of Parliament publicly that he will not be available because he has another meeting.

“Proper protocol dictates that this should have been done prior to the public meeting. It also appears to me that Parliament was not officially included in meetings after the passing of hurricane Irma. I have seen videos and photographs of the King, the Governor and the Prime Minister touring the island but the President of Parliament seems to be missing in action. Am I to conclude that our President of Parliament was perhaps wearing high heel leathered shoes and therefore was unable to traverse the debris and the slippery hills?

“Also, the Minister of General Affairs should not take the questions posed by the MPs personally but should answer every question objectively and factually without chiding and belittling the questioner. No question should be considered a stupid question! I commend MPs Tamara Leonard and Perry Geerlings who stood firm and insisted that their questions were not answered satisfactorily.

“According to the Disaster Management Law, the Minister of General Affairs should have presented the Disaster Management Plan to Parliament as well as to the Collectivité of Saint Martin one month after its finalization. In this context, I commend MP Ardwell Irion for acknowledging, on behalf of his fellow parliamentarians, that Parliament was not as vigilant as it should have been regarding this matter. Furthermore, the law states that the plan should be synchronized with the Collectivité. Had this taken place, the closing of the borders would not be such a mystery today.

“The Minister of General Affairs is obligated to present an evaluation report to Parliament six months after a disaster has occurred. However, to get the country back on its feet as quickly as possible, our Parliament should not drag its feet any longer on the Irma issue but should insist on receiving weekly briefings from the Prime Minister. Neither, should Parliament have to wait until the National Recovery Plan is completed in order to find out what Government is planning for the country and the people,” Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party said on Sunday.

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GEBE TO DISTRIBUTE DRINKING WATER ON THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE ISLAND

PHILIPSBURG - In a press release from NV GEBE and the Dutch ministry of Internal Affairs it was stated that as of Sunday, October 1st, at 12.00 noon NV GEBE will be making drinking water available to the public on the eastern side of the island by means of three storage tanks located at McDonalds at the Belvedere roundabout, Fresh Market parking lot and at the entrance Festival Village.

This drinking water is purified water and originates from the reversed osmosis (RO) unit at the Festival Village that was brought to Sint Maarten from the Netherlands.

The Dutch Ministry supplied the units, tanks and arranged for the engineers and the St. Maarten Inspectorate of Health VSA, in close collaboration with NV GEBE.

The tank sites will be supplied with drinking water between 7.30am - 19.00pm. All tanks are equipped with various water taps.

Persons living in the areas of the tanks are kindly requested to bring along their jerry cans where they will be able to fill these containers with drinking water. The Red Cross will distribute a limited amount of jerry cans at the different locations.

The company is looking at the possibility of building more storage tanks that will be able to assist with the drinking water situation as early as October 2, 2017.

Aboard the Dutch ship Karel Doorman 20 tanks and five trucks will arrive on St. Maarten to be able to assist with this. The tanks will also be located on the eastern side of the island. 

The goal is that community of Sint Maarten should not have to walk more than 500 meters for clean drinking water in areas where this water is not yet drinkable from the tap.

NV GEBE is working diligently to ensure normality back to the community of St. Maarten.

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Reopening of schools on track. ‘School board meeting fruitful’

PHILIPSBURG – The opening of school is on track with the Minister of Education, Culture Youth and Sport’s vision and goal. On Friday October 29th, the School boards met with the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS), the honorable Silveria Jacobs and the MECYS Recovery Team for the final meeting before the reopening of schools.

The school boards updated the recovery team on the status of the schools and the availability of teachers. The recovery team provided vital information on the school hours as well as the bussing of the students to and from school.

The majority of schools will be operational as of Monday, October 2nd. The Minister requested that the school boards request information from the parents on their status.

“We need the parents and school managers to be open about their status and situation so we can ascertain the feasibility of helping those that are most in need,” the Minister said.

The Minister also added that the reason for the reopening of schools in a timely manner was to regain a sense of normalcy and structure as well as strengthen the socio emotional wellbeing of the teachers and students who were affected. The school boards have been requested to practice leniency on the uniform code for the coming weeks.

The school boards all provided information on the reopening of the various campuses, which have been listed, below:

Reopening of school

SPCOBE:

Asha Stevens – CHS    - All grades – Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Helmich Snijders – CHS – All grades - Monday, October 2nd, 2017  

Seventh Day Adventist School 

Pre-Exam and Exam classes – Monday, October 2nd, 2017

 

SVOBE  

Milton Peters College - Pre-Exam, Exam Classes and VWO 4 – Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Sundial School - Pre-Exam and Exam Classes - Monday, October 2nd, 2017

 

FAVE – Academy/Academy PSVE and CAPE

Pre-Exam and Exam Classes - Monday, October 2nd, 2017 (7:30am – 12:00pm)

The School Board of FAVE has introduced extended hours from 2:00pm-6:00 for students who are in need of a space to do homework and research using wifi. The implementation of the extended hours will be made known to the students by the school management.

MAC High

Form 1 (7:30am – 12:00pm), Form 3 (7:30am – 12:35pm) and Form 5 (7:30am– 1:45pm) - Monday, October 2nd 

Forms 2 and 4 – Monday, October 2nd (10:15am – 3:15pm)

MAC

Browlia F. Maillard – All Grades – Monday, October 2nd, 2017

John A. Gumbs Campus – All Grades – Monday, October 2nd, 2017

SKOS (St. Dominic High School)

Forms 4 and 5 and IB year 1 and 2 – Monday, October 2nd, 2017 

Forms 1,2 and 3 – Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

SKOS (Catholic Primary Schools)

  • Sister Magda Primary School
  • Sister Regina Primary School
  • Sister Marie Laurence Primary School
  • Sister Borgia Primary School
  • St. Joseph Primary School
  • St. Dominic Primary School

All Grades – Monday, October 2nd, 2017 (Parents and students of the Sr. Marie Laurence will be notified on how the classes will be divvied)

Public Education

  • Oranje Primary School
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School
  • Leonald Conner Primary School
  • Ruby Labega Primary School
  • Marie Genevieve de Weever Primary School
  • Prins Willem Alexander School
  • St. Maarten Vocational Training School

Pre-Exam and Exam Classes – Monday October 2nd, Tuesday, October 3rd and Wednesday October 4th, 2017 from 8:00am to 12:00pm

As per Thursday, October 5th, 2017, onward phase in other classes as classrooms and teacher readiness permits from 8:00am -2:00pm

The Charlotte Brookson Academy has commenced classes since Monday October 23rd, and the school board representative informed the recovery team that the school has been in constant communication with the students.

The National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) is still being used as a shelter as it was previously stated that as of Wednesday, September 25th, the shelter would have been closed.

Unfortunately, due to the delay in temporary housing, the institute is still being used as a shelter and subsequently, will not be made available in time to accommodate the students.

The board and management of NIPA are requesting that the students do not visit the campus until it’s ready for operations. The Management will inform the students in a subsequent release on the date and time of the reopening.

The University of St. Martin will also inform the students on the reopening of the institution in a subsequent press release as the information becomes available.

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Puerto Rico Airport open for commercial flights. SXM Airport addressing resumption of civil and cargo flights

SIMPSON BAY – The Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM Airport) has suffered serious damage according to media reports with the aforementioned being described as heavy to severe.  The damage is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars as a result of the passing of Category 5+ Hurricane Irma on September 6.

In the mean-time Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (LMM), is operational and has been able to increase the number of its flights to 18.  The airport is also receiving commercial flights.  Puerto Rico was devastated last week by Category 4 Hurricane Maria.

The increase in air traffic at LMM is due to restoration of some radio communication was restored between aircraft and control towers.  The first international flights were scheduled on Thursday from Bogota, Colombia, Panama, and Cancun, Mexico.

Damages at SXM Airport won’t allow the facility to be fully operational post-Irma until 35 weeks later (nine months), or by around the beginning of the next hurricane season, June 2018. 

The SXM Airport Operating Company has drafted a disaster recovery plan to address the resumption of civil and cargo flights into the country as soon as possible.   

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