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Education must continue

No need for rules if common sense rules ~ PHILIPSBURG - The beginning of the new school year created a rather awkward situation, not only for the government, but also for schools and parents. While some schools want to open for business, others...

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The news of the day is that a civil servant tested positive for COVID-19. However, notable is the fact that her husband is a teacher at Learning Unlimited and their two children also attend this school. How ironic! Time therefore for a recap of the events leading up to the dilemma between the private schools and the Ministry of Education where it pertains to the guidelines for reopening these schools. The Minister of Education has been very clear in this directive: schools are to open their doors for distance learning. It is then up to the school boards together with the school management, teaching staff and parents to find common ground, ideal solutions and practical implementation of this directive. Where needed, there is a comprehensive Education Continuity Plan (ECP) that schools can tap into for guidelines. Here is a our recap under the title 'Education must continue'. There are no rules anchored in a ministerial decree, but common sense must rule for education to continue for the sake and intellectual well-being of our students. Why must government issue a decree to control something that we as parents should be able to control ourselves?

Have a safe week and remember to practice social distancing. and

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Our frontliners are under attack by the virus

We recently interviewed a frontliner about what the consequences of COVID-19 infections among the staff entail for capacity issues in frontline organizations such as the medical center, the ambulance service and the fire department.

We have not published this interview yet because we did not want to be seen as engaging in fear-mongering. However, since then, reports have been coming in daily of positive infection cases relating to frontliners in the police department, the Pointe Blanche Prison, and in several of the government departments such as immigration and labor.

Frontliners being forced to self-quarantine means that under-staffing and under-capacity are serious issues to have to be dealt with. The government apparatus was already significantly impacted by regular cases of under-staffing due to illnesses, sick leave and ghost civil servants. Add corona-infections, self-isolation and self-quarantine to the mix, and we have a severe labor workforce shortage on our hands in the collective sector.

Luckily, there seems to be good news to report and not just fear-mongering alone. The New York Times wrote scientists are seeing mounting evidence of lasting immunity after a coronavirus infection. It has been shown for the first time that people who have already had the disease do not get COVID-19 a second time. That's excellent news for herd immunity and a vaccine.

So to the frontliners presently under attack, we say to you, follow the CPS guidelines for mandatory self-isolation and self-quarantine. Once you have overcome your symptoms, at least for the time being, you can put your mind at ease that you will have a certain amount of immunity until we get hard confirmation of the possible herd immunity effects of an infection. In the meantime, practice social distancing, wear a facemask and wash hands often.
SXM Daily News Feature Episode
SXM Daily News August 17, 2020

Acting Secretary General (SG) of the Ministry of Justice, Keturah Brown, has been relieved of her duties and returns to her previous post as head of Immigration & Border Patrol Services. Brown was appointed as SG by the previous Minister of Justice.

Read more COVID-19 Updates
COVID-19 Update - St. Maarten

SMMC takes additional measures due to COVID-19 surge

Scaling back non-essential care

Non-essential care such as elective surgeries and certain Outpatient services (e.g. high exposure risk procedures such as aerosol generating procedures etc.) will be scaled down. SMMC will, however, continue to provide essential care, critical care services and will increase teleconsultations. Persons interested in making appointments should call rather than coming to the hospital.

Increasing isolation capacity

In an effort to create additional isolation capacity for COVID care, in addition to the existing COVID facility located outside SMMC, additional patient isolation rooms used during the first COVID surge will again be allocated for this purpose. This is done in case the need for additional COVID care arises due to a significant increase in COVID admissions that our outside COVID facility cannot accommodate.

Patient visiting hours suspended, facemask and hand hygiene

Patient visiting hours have been suspended since late July. In the meantime, in the interest of public health and in an effort to minimize the transmission of the virus, everyone is reminded to wear their face masks in public, social distance when possible, avoid large gatherings and practice proper hand hygiene.

(Source: SMMC)
COVID-19 has now risen to 202 confirmed

PHILIPSBURG - As of August 17th, St. Maarten has confirmed nine new cases of persons who have tested positive for the Corona Virus (COVID-19). The new total of confirmed cases now stand at 326. Of the active cases, the Collective Prevention...

Read more Education Special
Minister of Education Drs Rodolphe Samuel updates schools

PHILIPSBURG - On Sunday, August 16, 2020, the honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, Drs. Rodolphe Samuel sent a letter to all private school boards and subsidized schools that fall under the Division of Public Education...

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Minister Samuel urges schools to do distance learning

PHILIPSBURG - "It was never the intention of the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport to close schools," Education Minister Drs. Rodolphe Samuel writes in a letter dated August 16 to all subsidized schools and all private school...

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Minister of Education Samuel's approach to reopening schools

PHILIPSBURG - The bottom line of Education Minister Drs. Rodolphe Samuel to reopening the schools remains focused on three by now familiar issues: wearing facemasks, washing hands and social distancing. Nothing new there, but in the meantime the...

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Closure of Learning Unlimited was unlawful

PHILIPSBURG - Public Health Minister Richard Panneflek did not have the authority to close down the Learning Unlimited preparatory school as he did last week Wednesday, August 12. That is the essence of a ruling issued by the Court in First Instance.

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Learning Unlimited defies Education Ministry's closure-order

PHILIPSBURG - All public and private schools have to remain closed for onsite education, Education Minister Rodolphe Samuel wrote in a letter to all school boards on August 11, but that message was apparently wasted on the management of Learning...

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Learning Unlimited establishes hygiene procedural handbook

LU's hygiene procedural handbook balance educational needs with safe environment ~ CAY HILL - In preparation of the opening of its 2020-2021 school year on August 12, Learning Unlimited (LU) has produced a 30-page Hygiene Procedural Handbook for...

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Distance learning or no learning

In St. Maarten, the pandemic has made life very difficult for schools, teachers, and students. The choice is a familiar one by now. We must choose between safety for our children first and convenience. Or inconvenience, however you want to look...

Read more Book Review
Every voter must buy a copy of this book - Book Review

"The Constitution of Sint Maarten - When it is time to vote" By author Hensley G.A. Plantijn A book review for by Terrance Rey ~ People must buy this book if they want to fully understand our parliamentary system and the...

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Electoral reform: the Lynch-law under review - part 1/2

PHILIPSBURG -- The discussion about electoral reform will soon be in full swing, whereby the focus will be on the Lynch-law - actually, an article in the current electoral law that determines who gets elected: candidates with more votes or...

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Electoral reform: the Lynch-law under review - part 2/2

Curacao sticks to system that favors position on candidate-list ~ PHILIPSBURG - St. Maarten's current electoral law - oft referred to as the Lynch-law after its architect - determines that candidates with the highest number of votes are elected...

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PFP Questions Minister of Finance on Way Forward

PHILIPSBURG - The PFP Faction submitted questions to the Minister of Finance, the Honorable Ardwell Irion, on Monday, 17 August 2020. The faction referenced the letter sent by State Secretary Raymond Knops to the Dutch Second Chamber on August...

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Developing the Caribbean from within

by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert ~ Economic recession, pandemic, and potential natural disasters may lead to gloom, despair, agony, deep dark depression and excessive misery. When it sounds like a hammer and feels like a hammer, it may actually be a hammer....

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Gregory Damoen reappointed as Cft member for Curacao

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - Gregory Damoen has been reappointed by the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom as of September 1 st, 2020 as a member of the Board of financial supervision Curaçao and Sint Maarten, upon proposal of Curaçao. The...

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Customers should de-mask briefly before entering a bank

SINT MAARTEN/ST. LUCIA - Caribbean territories have joined the rest of the world in implementing a number of protocols to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months. These include wearing of masks in public, as recommended by the World Health...

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St. Maarten Weather Updates & Forecasts

A tropical wave located in the eastern Caribbean Sea continues to move westward while producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are occurring and will continue over portions of the Windward and ...

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Besmettingen op eilanden nemen toe: 'Nog geen aanleiding om

DEN HAAG - Het aantal Corona-besmettingen op Aruba en Sint-Maarten stijgt fors. Toch is er volgens minister Ank Bijleveld (Defensie) nog geen reden om marineschip Karel Doorman opnieuw naar de Cariben te sturen. Op Aruba zijn 905 mensen besmet...

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Lid medisch team VS opgepakt

Van een onzer verslaggeefsters Willemstad - De autoriteiten hebben gistermiddag een man aangehouden die onlangs als lid van het Amerikaans medisch team op Curaçao is aangekomen om te helpen tijdens de coronapandemie. Dat bevestigen ingewijden...

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'Erg kwetsbaar voor uitbraak Covid-19'

Onderzoek: Hoog percentage chronisch zieken op eilanden Van een onzer verslaggevers Willemstad - Curaçao en Aruba hebben relatief veel inwoners met een chronische ziekte of aandoening. Dat, in combinatie met een vergrijzende bevolking, maakt de...

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Stijging aantal coronagevallen Aruba vlakt af

Van onze correspondent Oranjestad - Met zeven coronagevallen meer dan zondag lijkt de stijging in het aantal mensen met Covid-19 steeds verder af te vlakken. Er werden ruim 250 mensen getest, waarvan er negentien besmet bleken. Twaalf eerder...

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"We are in this together-Let's Soar Higher"

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - The St. Maarten Academy PSVE will begin the 2020-2021 school year with online instruction on August 17 th, 2020 for all subjects at all levels. With the theme "We are in this together-Let's Soar Higher", teachers and...

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Sint Maarten Lions Club and Delft Vrijhoff Rotary Club...

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - Tuesday August 12, 2020 marked Lions Club International Day of the Youth and to commemorate this day, the Sint Maarten Lions Club together with the Rotary Delft Vrijhoff Club donated 15 tablets and matching cases to...

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Saba Reopens Later for Tourism

The Bottom, Saba- The Public Entity Saba on Friday, August 14 has decided to push back opening dates for tourism. This means that Saba for the time being will remain closed for leisure travel. While monitoring how destinations are...

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(Be the first to take our poll and win one month's free subscription)
Without Distance Learning there may be No Learning. Do you agree?
I don't know
On Monday, August 17th, 2020 at 6:48 AM AST the first to take the poll was H.L., who gets one (1) month's free subscription from

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'Older pupils should keep their distance'

Children in secondary schools should be made to keep one metre distance from each other because it is now clear that teenagers and adolescents play a role in the spread of coronavirus, government advisor and pediatrician Károly Illy has stated....

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Silicon Valley vets back Dutch start-ups

A group of 15 Dutch Silicon Valley veterans have joined forces to help young Dutch tech start-ups by providing expertise and seed capital of up to several hundred thousand euros per company. The lack of capital is one of the main bottlenecks in...

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Dutch privacy watchdog says coronavirus app still needs work

Dutch privacy watchdog AP has told the health ministry not to press ahead yet with its coronavirus tracking app, because various questions still remain about security and personal data controls. The AP says privacy has not, so far, been...

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Curaçao slave registers are put online

The national archive is putting the names of 21,000 people who lived as slaves in the former Dutch colony of Curaçao online, enabling their descendants to find out about their ancestors. The online resource will be put live at 10am Curaçao time...

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