While the new Jost Van Dyke Primary School & Multipurpose Facility is intended to serve the community in numerous capacities, that of a preschool or daycare is not on the table at the moment. That was made clear by Minister for Education Sharie deCastro while fielding questions from members of the public about the new facility.

DeCastro, responding directly to a question from a member of the public, said although the Government of the Virgin Islands is not responsible for the operation of preschools and daycares in the territory, she has been made aware of the concerns of the Jost Van Dyke Community and parents who would like to see such a facility operating on the island, and has noted these concerns. As such, the minister revealed her intention to soon hold meetings to facilitate the necessary discussions with stakeholders to have this need met.

“ We are in the process of looking to facilitate some meetings with the individuals who have contacted me to have a dialogue with the ministry to see exactly how we could move it forward because we understand that it is an immediate need, but our current position in terms of the current space the institution has as it exists and we have to ensure that we do not bite off more than we can chew”, she said.

The Minister’s response received mixed reactions, including criticism from one member of the public who labelled it hogwash and demanded that the Government make the provisions for a preschool or daycare on Jost Van Dyke in short order.

To this, the Minister offered what she called a “straightforward response”.

“ I can’t say here and now what the outcome will be, but what I can say is this …. Traditionally daycares are not run by the Government of the Virgin Islands or the Ministry of Education. The Private Sector has taken up the responsibility across the Territory to facilitate daycares, and overall there’s a reality of a lot of factors that would have to come into place”, she said.

Some examples of the factors affecting government involvement in the operation of a preschool or daycare in Jost Van Dyke, deCastro explained include space, human resource and financial constraints in terms of the potential of hiring qualified teachers and such which are not currently budgeted for.