photo: Laura Bijnsdorp

PHILIPSBURG – “Schools are set to resume fully this Thursday, but it will take a lot of work, time and aid to get our school, teachers and students back to full health”, says school manager Sonia Parotte-Warner of the Oranje School at Sint Maarten.

The necessity for more counseling was also one of the main points Parotte-Warner brought up to Minister Plasterk.

Article continues after the video

By Laura Bijnsdorp

As part of his visit to Sint Maarten, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Plasterk, visited the Oranje School on Tuesday. In his conversation with teachers and students a lot of emphasis was put on the social-emotional aspect of the aftermath of Irma.

A nightmare for many
Teacher Gina Keling: “Every time I hear a noise that reminds me of the storm, my hearts starts to beat faster.”

“My house is gone. My husband lost his job. Him and my youngest daughter evacuated to Barbados. It is hard for me to fully express what I feel.” Teacher Charmaine Cheefoon, says with tears in her eyes.

Administrative Assistant Tony Watkins: “For many this experience has been a nightmare. Imagine having everything one day and all of it being gone the next day?”

The need for counseling
On the day of Plasterks visit to the school, the teachers had gathered together in the morning to speak about Irma and share what they had endured in the past weeks.

“Our students and teachers have been through some very traumatic experiences. Besides material, we are going to need professionals such as psychologists and social workers to help our kids and staff deal with the stress caused during and after hurricane Irma”, Parotte-Warner explains.

Photo: Laura Bijnsdorp

“Speaking to the students, I heard that some of them had to face some very scary situations. The teachers will need guidance on how to help these students.” Plasterk says right after visiting one of the few classes in session at the Oranje School.