As our students are being welcomed back to their respective school premises today, Monday November 16th, 2020, the Ministry of Justice is placing certain measures into effect for the overall benefit and protection of the community at large, before, during and after school hours.
In addition to the necessity for everyone to adhere to the ongoing COVID-19 social distancing measures and hygiene recommendations, the Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson has also put into place a Ministerial Regulation with the aim of protecting students, teachers, parents, and community residents.
The Ministerial Regulation, effective today, prohibits students and adults from loitering in the immediate vicinity of the schools in the Cul-De-Sac school district between the hours of 6:00AM and 6:00PM, Monday through Friday.
The Ministry of Justice has the responsibility to provide safety and security to the public at large and with that in mind, the Minister would like to remind all returning students as well as parents and guardians that there will be zero tolerance for violent attacks against other students, parents, teachers, and other individuals alike. Fighting, bullying, and/or the possession of weapons by students or any person found to be loitering within the school district will accept and face the relevant legal consequences for their actions.
The Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Education, Culture Youth and Sport (ECYS) will also be working closely together to roll out additional measures to combat truancy, as this negatively contributes to the issues and acts of violence by and between students outside of the immediate school grounds.
Parents are asked to have serious discussions with their children about the importance of staying safe and out of trouble, along with the need to practice the necessary health and safety protocols as it relates to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Further to, parents and guardians are being asked to ensure their children commute to school in a timely manner and confirm their arrival home thereafter.
“I understand and relate to the concerns expressed by parents with the decision to have schools resume in-person, on-site learning. Similarly, the thought process as to why it is essential to have our children back in school is also understandable. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that all parties do their part in taking a responsible and cooperative approach to safeguarding oneself, others and their families,” stated Minister Richardson.
It is expected that the opening of the schools will affect the free flow and safety of traffic in the vicinity of the school areas. In order to mitigate and monitor these issues, the Police Force of St. Maarten, KPSM have formulated the following action plan:
Ø Daily controlling of traffic at strategic intersections.
Ø Monitoring of school buses, to ensure that they comply with the traffic ordinances and stipulated safety protocols, as it relates to curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Ø The enforcement of timely pick-ups and drop offs of the students being transported in both public school buses and private vehicles.
Ø The Police will assist in escorting students to and from their buses or private vehicles to prevent loitering around school premises.
Ø Persons who are not associated with the schools, meaning; students from other schools, teachers, auxiliary workers etc. found loitering around school areas will be asked to leave by the Police.
Ø Parents are urged to warn their children against joining and participating in gang activities, as the Police will be enforcing a zero tolerance approach to this and any acts of violence.
Ø Increased patrolling in the vicinities of schools during and after school hours.
Ø The Police is reminding students and the General Public about the importance of wearing a mask to protect themselves and others from the COVID-19 virus, and to further assist in enforcing this, Patrol Officers will be equipped with spare masks to offer to persons who are not in possession of one.
“The KPSM would also like to use this opportunity to welcome students back to school and we wish them much success this school year. We know that these are tough and unprecedented times where nothing is the norm, but we believe that our children are resilient and with the proper support, they will adapt and be successful.
“It is in this regard that we the Police Force of Sint Maarten pledge our assistance, in supporting, protecting and offering guidance to our students in any way possible and we encourage students to feel free to approach or reach any of our Officers, whether it be for help or advice where necessary.”, said Police Chief Carl John of KPSM