Post Maria Status Report

Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2018 Published: Wednesday, 31 January 2018 Written by Isabella Prentice

Convent High School (CHS) established 2 February 1858 did not escape unscathed from Hurricane Maria’s fury on 18 September 2017. CHS situated on Bath Road has been in its present location for 110 years. The structure is E-shaped with two storeys.

The upper floor of southern section suffered 70% roof damage and in some areas complete damage was sustained. This rendered the upper floor unusable as in some cases the windows were blown off.; the southeastern section, suffered roof damage and the partition separating one of the deputy principal’s office from a classroom also got destroyed. In the middle section, which housed the 2 computer labs, Systems Administrator’s room, a Deputy Principal’s office, the Library and three classrooms have been condemned. This section had wooden floor which has been compromised. All 90 desktop computers - thin clients - were damaged along with the equipment in the server room. The preferred library books were all damaged as well.

Southern wing showing loss of roof etc
Southeastern section and part of the northern section

The northern section which previously housed the nun’s residence, was used as classrooms since the nuns left. That area too has been condemned as the floor and staircase have been compromised; the staircase has actually shifted its position, this has also rendered the school’s Auditorium unusable.

Area where computer labs, Systems Administrator, Deputy Principal and classrooms were on the upper floor. Auditorium housed on lower floor - south west view of the middle section

Besides the main campus, the school has an annex across the road which housed the Science Lab and the Geography Room (Fig 4). That building suffered loss of windows and some roof damage. The Science lab housed on the lower floor did not suffer any damage.

Annex housing Science Lab and Geography Room

Based on an initial estimate from the Diocesan Engineer, the damage to CHS has been estimated at EC $3.63 million.

Presently, school is operating on a shift system using the lower level of the southern section and part of the northern section. In order to bring school back to as close to normal as possible, the following needs to be done:

  • the repair to the southern and south-eastern sections. The repair would entail, replacement of the ring beam - right around - as in some areas, the ring beam has shifted or show signs of damage;
  • the replacement of rafters and galvanized sheeting,
  • the electrical rewiring of the entire floor,
  • replacement of a divider between two classrooms,
  • the replacement of at least four (4) chalkboards,
    Area where divider needs to be replaced
  • the replacement of eight (8) classroom doors,
  • the replacement of windows on the southern side of the classrooms - 4 classrooms.
  • The replacement of the divider between a classroom and one of the Deputy Principal’s office - part of which serves as the sick room.
  • Repairs to the roofing leading to the main office - there are a few leaks in the roof.

The above can be categorised as medium term, that is we would love to have these restored in most by September 2018.

In addition, on a very short term and critical basis, in order to have students ready to sit the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Secondary Exit Certification Exams, those who pursue EDPM and ICT would require equipment - computers. In light of the present situation at the school where there is little room to manoeuvre, the decision has been to request laptops which are portable and can be easily stored in the school’s office. These laptops would not necessitate the use of any large room , and compared to desktops, can be operated wirelessly around the school in any classroom.
For our technology thrust to continue:

  • At least 30 laptops
  • Four (4) wireless access points and wireless bridges
  • Four (4) smart TVs or multimedia projectors
  • Two (2) servers as those we had got water damage
  • Two (2) AC units
  • Two KVM Switches - Linux

In spite of all the challenges, the staff and students have worked hard to get the first term off and running. Staff members showed their resilience and commitment to securing the country’s future.

Over the past month, persons have been hinting that the damage to CHS is minor as they are only what is visible along the way as they traverse along Bath road. To give a clearer idea of the damage sustained, photos were taken of the schools’ main office, the server room, the library area, one of the two computer labs.

Ceiling of main office

The school’s office appears untouched, however, a few sheets of galvanise came off resulting in water damage to the photocopier, duplicating paper stored, a surveillance TV among others. The galvanise has been temporarily replaced however, the school is without duplicating facilities. Additionally the office person are functioning in sweltering conditions post noon daily.

Remainder of Library and Room 5D

Two of the classrooms in close proximity to the library were destroyed. The roof suffered damage resulting in rain soaking into the wooden floor. The soaked floor has rendered the area unsafe for walking as the water seeps through and has impacted the staff room housed immediately below. Staff at the CHS are now housed on the verandah leading to the school’s office and in the presentation room - an annex of the former Library.

Former 5C
Ceiling leading to computer labs, server room and one deputy principal’s office
Ceiling in server room
Server room

The hub of the school’s technology thrust has been impacted. The passage of Maria led to destruction of vital equipment - servers, computers - used to keep the school humming along. In addition, the two computer labs have been destroyed - all equipment in there suffered water damage. Further due to the nature of the school, the floor - wooden - has rendered the area unsafe. The swollen floor can be felt as one walks across.

Although school appears to be functioning in a near normal manner, additional rooms are needed to execute the school’s programme. In this vein the uncovered or tarpaulin-covered upper level is being utilised, however, on any given day as long as it rains the rooms on the upper level become flooded.

Wet rooms on the upper level


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