As schools in Vieux Fort reopened Monday after Friday’s closure due to deadly gun violence in the Southern town, Education Minister Shawn Edward, who visited the learning institutions, disclosed that the police were present as classes resumed.
“The police have a physical presence at all the schools in Vieux Fort this morning, quite apart from those who have been deployed in the various pockets just to provide added security,” the Minister said.
The team accompanying Edward included his Permanent Secretary, the President of the National Principals Association, and the Saint Lucia Teachers’ Union General Secretary.
The Minister said the visit to Vieux Fort was to meet staff and students to reassure and comfort them as much as possible after last week’s gun violence.
He explained to his Ministry’s Communications Unit that the incidents had traumatised teachers and students.
But Edward said after meeting the police high command, there were assurances that the security situation had improved and measures were in place to allow schools to reopen.
“As a Ministry and as a government, we are taking the situation very seriously and working very closely with the police to put measures in place to improve the security that would allow for schools to continue as they would have prior to the eruption of gun violence towards the tail-end of last week,” Edward stated.
“We are monitoring the situation on an hourly basis. We are in conversation almost on an hourly basis with the high command of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force and even some of the officers on the ground because it is a very dynamic situation,” he stated.
“Once we get to a situation where we believe the situation has become volatile again, we will not hesitate to close schools,” Edward declared.
However, he said he was satisfied with the police measures.
The Minister disclosed that attendance was affected at two schools he had visited before the media interview.
He said at the Beanfield Comprehensive Secondary school, attendance was at approximately 50 percent.
But it was between fifteen and twenty percent at the Vieux Fort Primary School.
“That probably has a lot to do with the fact that the main catchment area for the primary school would be the communities in Vieux Fort where the gun violence has erupted. In the case of the secondary school the catchment area is much wider,” Edward explained.