January 29, 20131170Views

Four more schools in
the British Virgin Islands have attained SAFE School certification.

Agape Total Life
Academy, Century House Montessori School, Vision Child Development Centre and
Willows Day Care are the latest schools to receive the certification from the
Department of Disaster Management (DDM).

The certification is
awarded to schools following an assessment to ensure that they meet the minimum
requirements established in the School Health and Safety Policy approved by the
Ministry of Education and Culture. The assessment checklist examines factors
such as location of the school, safety design features, the condition of
playgrounds and equipment, laboratory safety procedures, fire safety, training,
security, evacuation and disaster planning procedures.

Presenting the
schools’ principals with their certificates, DDM’s Deputy Director, Ms.
Evangeline Inniss commended the recipients and encouraged them to maintain the
required standards.

“It is heartening to
see more schools achieving the SAFE School certification. Last year, we had ten
schools certified and we are happy to be awarding the certification to another
four schools so soon.  We have been very
pleased with the level of interest shown by school administrators in addressing
the issues outlined in the assessment reports,” Ms. Inniss stated.

However, she noted
that this is merely the tip of the iceberg as there are several more schools to
be certified.

“There are 63 schools and daycare centres
registered in the BVI and our goal is to ensure that they all achieve the SAFE
School certification. They have all been assessed and we will continue working
with them to guide them through the retrofitting and other non-structural work
that is necessary to achieve this important certification.”

Schools are required to score a
minimum of 80 percent on the assessment checklist to be awarded the SAFE School
certification, which is valid for three years. In addition to the SAFE School
certificate, the principals were also presented with the SAFE School seal which
must be affixed to the school building.

Schools which have already received
the SAFE School certification are encouraged to work towards the SMART School
designation which will be awarded based on a combination of health and safety
requirements and climate change initiatives or green practices.

The schools eligible to pursue SMART
School certification have already been provided with a checklist of green
initiatives that they will be assessed on in the coming years. The initiatives
being recommended include energy consumption, water conservation, recycling
programmes and improved air quality.