by Ernice Gilbert (VI Consortium) ST. CROIX — The V.I. Department of Education on Friday announced early closures for several schools on St. Croix, citing student protests and a persistent job action by the American Federation of Teachers Local (AFT) 1826.
Specifically, the St. Croix Central High School, St. Croix Educational Complex High School, and John H. Woodson Jr. High School closed at 10:00 a.m. due to student protests tied to nonfunctional air conditioning units — long a problem at the public schools but extremely hot weather has made sitting in classrooms unbearable. In a statement, D.O.E. emphasized, “The safety and well-being of students are a priority.” Bus transportation is being arranged for affected students, and parents are being urged to retrieve their children as soon as they can.
In addition, the Claude O. Markoe PreK-6 School on St. Croix will also be shutting down for the day. This closure is a direct result of the AFT’s job action, which has led to insufficient personnel available for instruction.
St. Croix has been grappling with teacher protests over oppressive working conditions, particularly the elementary and junior high public schools. The ongoing unrest has led to multiple interruptions in the academic calendar, with educators advocating for improved working conditions.