Education reminds Central students to attend make-up classes next week

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ST. CROIX - Education officials said Friday that St. Croix Central High School students and their parents have the responsibility of making sure students attend make-up classes next week.

The students and staff have been mandated to forego their scheduled spring break this year to make up for instructional time lost after a noxious odor closed the school for two weeks last month. The make-up instructional days for the students have been scheduled for next week with extended hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., and the department issued a statement Friday urging parents to make sure their children are in school.

Acting St. Croix Superintendent Janine Schuster said students who do not attend classes next week will receive an unexcused absence, which could hurt a student's grade-point average.

"The Virgin Islands Board of Education policy states that each unexcused absence per marking period will reduce a student's average by one point," Schuster said. "Ten or more unexcused absences per semester results in a failing grade for the course."

Classes at the school were suspended March 18 when dozens of students fell sick after noxious fumes - now blamed on an abandoned sewage system - caused them to experience vomiting, headaches and dizziness, while a few even fainted, collapsing in front of their schoolmates.

The school has been closed since then, and students remained at home for two weeks until April 1, when they began sharing the St. Croix Educational Complex campus on a double-session schedule.

Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory said in a prepared statement Friday that it is important for parents to work with the department during this time to ensure that there is no impact on the students' academic performance.

"We must ensure that our students recover as much of the lost academic hours as possible, and I am asking all parents to continue working with the department to ensure that our students are in school and are working at home to complete their assignments," she said. Last week, St. Croix Federation of Teachers President Rosa Soto-Thomas said her union members are adamantly against the period that the department chose to make up the lost time.

On Friday, she said all indications are that the teachers will be at school and in class next week, making up the instructional time as directed by the Education Department.

However, Soto-Thomas also said the union members still believe they are being treated unfairly and have not been given credit for hours and days that they worked when Central was closed and they were preparing to resume instruction at Educational Complex.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email

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