Jamaican public schools designated as emergency shelters will be closed at 12:30 p.m. on Friday in light of the severe weather warning in effect for the country.
On the advice of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, the Ministry of Education and Youth said it has mobilized emergency response teams at all public educational institutions, and the decision to close some schools early will allow for full preparation in the event they are used to house evacuees.
In a statement, the ministry noted that the development follows the Meteorological Service of Jamaica issuing a severe weather alert bulletin for the island, indicating that a tropical depression is advancing over the southeastern Caribbean.
In preparation for the tropical depression, Education Minister Fayval Williams and the ministry’s senior executives had a virtual meeting with school administrators on Thursday.
According to the ministry, over 800 school administrators attended the meeting and shared their safety preparations for tropical weather-related emergencies. They were also updated by the ministry’s team on the actions to be taken if their schools are used as evacuation storm shelters.
In her address to the school administrators, Minister Williams said based on reports received, security and safety measures are in place for the anticipated weather.
“I am pleased to note from reports that I have received, that all safety and security protocols are in place for the impending tropical wave. Our public schools are at the forefront of providing shelter. As planned, evacuations are part of the many aspects of emergency preparation efforts for which our schools have to be prepared,” she said.
Williams further applauded principals and teachers for their responsiveness, resilience, and support during this difficult time.