Several projects made possible via the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund established after the onslaught of the September 2017 hurricanes are in the news these days. Repairs are finally starting on three of the 19 schools slated for such, no doubt a welcome development for the staff and students in question.
It took 3½ years, but there are also relevant circumstances including the impact of the COVID-19 crisis to consider. Even today, the schools must be worked on in three batches because it would be near impossible to temporarily relocate all at the same time.
That remains a challenge in each individual case, whereby also partial relocation and virtual education on certain days are alternatives. Experience gained with the latter during the pandemic would be an advantage in that sense, but physical or face-to-face learning has already resumed in many schools at least to some extent and seems the option preferred by most in relatively normal circumstances.
Thankfully, the inconvenience for those concerned, including parents, should be for an estimated period of only 100 days or so, with the second and third batches scheduled to begin mid-May and later in the year, respectively. These will obviously be bigger with 16 of 19 schools still to go.
St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is also cranking up its information campaign about the new St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH) under construction on its terrain. Driving by, one cannot help but wonder how they are going to fit 16,500 square metres floorspace for the state-of-the art facility with 110 beds into that small area and still have room to manoeuvre during the building process, but that is best left to the experts.
These projects and that of the airport terminal reconstruction are indeed long-awaited, but nevertheless of great importance for the island’s socioeconomic recovery, perhaps now more than ever. Seeing them to a fruitful end should therefore continue to be top priority for all involved.