Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd expressed doubt over whether the Patrick J. Bethel High School in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, will open in 2020.
Lloyd said the school will cost at least $4 million to repair, as the damage to it from Hurricane Dorian was so extensive.
“Well, the schools in the south and the north are already open and operational,” he said on the sidelines of the Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade.
“The concern is the schools in [the] Marsh Harbour area, Patrick Bethel and Central Abaco Primary.
“The challenge there is the severity of the damage is going to require those schools a longer time to be prepared. Patrick Bethel is the worst of the two schools I just mentioned.
“That certainly is going to be months before it is ready, if it is ready in 2020. Central Abaco Primary, we expect it’s going to be about six months, so it will be ready, hopefully, before the academic year ends, but certainly by September of 2020, it will be ready.”
Lloyd said the schools that are already open are still limited. However, he said repairs will begin on them in early January.
“Now, do remember, the schools in the south, as well as the north, have only been operating primarily half days, because there is still damage in those schools, which we are now undertaking in terms of repairs beginning January with varying costs,” he said.
“For example, Central Abaco Primary, it’s about $1.5 million, almost $2 million. Patrick Bethel is $4 million north. And a number of other schools, Fox Town [is about] $30,000 or $35,000. And some others like Coopers Town would be $400,000 to $500,000 and Treasure Cay would be almost $1 million. So, that kind of range of damage and the cost of repair is where we are challenged right now.”
While he acknowledged there are some challenges ahead, Lloyd was hopeful about Abaco’s recovery.
“But thankfully, schools are operating. More and more parents are moving back as they can find accommodations in the respective schools, and Abaco is slowly coming back to itself.”