No school until further notice, says education ministry - Companies also issue advisories
The education ministry has mandated that all schools be closed today, as Jamaica is expected to experience the effects of Hurricane Matthew.
Minister of Education Ruel Reid, in a statement issued yesterday, said the safety of all Jamaicans, especially children, was a priority and that all schools must remain closed until further notice.
Schools that will be used as shelters, Reid said, must put in place immediate emergency plans.
"All schools that function as disaster relief centres should put in safe keeping all important documents and educational materials. Those schools that serve as relief centres are prepared to facilitate arrangements for delivery of supplies on their premises. We encourage school administrators to stay tuned to the media in order to receive regular updates from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information as the situation unfolds over the next two days," Reid said.
Approximately 830 of the almost 1,000 public schools will be utilised as shelters.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Justice also advised staff not to attempt to report for work.
In the meantime, telecommunications company Flow opened its emergency operations centre (EOC) at 10 last night.
The company said it would be continuing mitigation activities across the island to ensure that its customers stay connected throughout and after the passage of the storm, in a manner that will not put its employees at any unnecessary risk.
KEEPING CUSTOMERS CONNECTED
"Our local crisis-management team will be manning the emergency operations centre, which will remain open until the [hurricane] warning has been lifted and normal business operations resume. We have prepared as best as possible and are committed to doing all we can to keep our customers connected during this time," said Kayon Wallace, director of corporate communications and stakeholder management at Flow.
Customers can call these numbers to report disruptions once the OEC opens: 929-9834, 929-9835, 929-9837, or toll-free 1-888-295-3621.
The Tourism Emergency Operations Centre (TEOC) has been activated by the tourism ministry to provide emergency services for the local tourism sector.
All partners of the tourism ministry have been urged by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett to take the necessary steps to remain safe during the hurricane.
"As our nation braces for the impact of Hurricane Matthew, everyone needs to heed the hurricane warnings which the relevant authorities have issued, as this is a powerful system which should never be underestimated," Bartlett said.
Although Sangster International Airport remains open during the hurricane, a number of flights have been cancelled. Passengers booked on cancelled flights are being advised to contact the respective airlines for rebooking options. These are as follows:
- Southwest - Cancelled all flights into and out of Montego Bay for today.
- Spirit - Cancelled all flights into and out of Montego Bay for today.
- Southwest - Montego Bay to Orlando departing at 9 a.m.
- Southwest - Montego Bay to Baltimore departing at 4 p.m.
- Spirit - Montego Bay to Ft Lauderdale departing at 2:08 p.m.