By Carlena Knight
The new academic year for students at Barbuda’s lone secondary school finally began yesterday after a two-week delay.
It was the first time youngsters at Sir McChesney George Secondary School were back in the physical classroom after six months of coronavirus-related closures.
Principal John Mussington told Observer, “We have officially opened and we are basically doing orientation for the fifth formers [on Monday] and we will carry on with that for the rest of the week, with the other classes.”
The delayed reopening was due to ongoing construction and other issues.
The school, which has more than 100 students, was scheduled to reopen on September 7 in line with government schools in Antigua but the incomplete construction work caused a setback.
The upgrade, which began in mid-August, included building new lab spaces, retrofitting classrooms and other changes to the main area of the school.
Additionally, construction to expand the school to facilitate universal secondary education – which was instituted in the twin island nation seven years ago – got underway in Barbuda in September 2019.
In 2013, Mussington shared that a $30 million loan had been earmarked for the universal secondary expansion project at Sir McChesney George, but that did not materialise.
However, after Hurricane Irma in 2017, an arrangement was made through the Caribbean Development Bank to facilitate the works.
That project was slated to be completed by mid-August 2020 but was plagued by delays due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
Face-to-face lessons in public schools on both islands came to an abrupt halt in March after the country recorded its first Covid-19 case.