Government House Briefing Details Governor Bryan’s Proposed Land Swap Legislation With NPS to Build K-12 School on St. John

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — During Monday’s weekly Government House briefing, Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. offered details about the proposed legislation that Governor Albert Bryan Jr. sent down to the 35th Legislature that will allow for a land swap between the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI) and the National Park Service (NPS) for the purpose of building a K-12 school on St. John.

Director Motta said the Territory has been trying to find land for a school on St. John for 50 years and the agreement with the NPS will be ready to move forward by July 1 if approved by the 35th Legislature.

“After half a century of setbacks and obstacles, our collective goal of establishing a secondary school on the island of St. John is at last a reality. This historic achievement is the result of the culmination of decades of work, spanning numerous administrations and requiring leadership from public servants across the nation,” Governor Bryan wrote in his transmittal letter to Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. “The gravity of the calling we share in protecting and providing for future generations has never been more apparent. Our opportunity to safeguard the future of education for our children is upon us.”

Governor Bryan’s proposed legislation calls for the exchange of Tract No. 02-101 Whistling Island a/k/a Whistling Cay, St. John, from the GVI to the U.S. Department of Interior in exchange for the NPS’s conveyance of a portion of Tract No. 01-137A Catherineberg (Hammer’s Fann), St. John, to the GVI to construct a public school. 

Also under the Governor’s proposed legislation, the GVI will retain the water rights to Whistling Cay, and the proceeds received in the form of an equalizing payment of $210,000 from the National Park Service will be appropriated to the St. John Capital Improvements Fund.

As part of the Territory’s recovery from hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be funding the construction of a modern K-12 school facility with all of the associated amenities. 

“This facility will serve the community of St. John, not just as a school, but it will also provide a hardened hurricane shelter, a meeting space for public assemblies, and athletic facilities for the people of St. John,” Governor Bryan wrote in the transmittal letter. “The acquisition of this property will allow us to position the school in a convenient location for students, and finally enable St. Johnians to graduate from high school on their home island of St. John.”

Hurricane Shelter Pre-registration

Department of Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez also appeared during the weekly briefing to advise residents of plans in place for sheltering in the case of a severe storm this hurricane season.

Commissioner Causey-Gomez also reminded residents about storm readiness, including making sure their homes are clearly marked and they have a plan in place for where to go – whether it is their home, a friend’s home or a shelter. The Commissioner also detailed the importance of preparing a “go bag” that includes dry clothes, medications, important documents in a waterproof container, toiletries and other key items that residents might need if they are unable to stay in their homes.

She also provided information about sheltering for pets and explained the procedures to ensure residents’ cats or dogs are also protected during a severe storm.

“If you have a pet or pets, it’s really important for you to have a plan for them. Some of us really love our animals, so we should not leave them out in the cold or the heat,” Commissioner Causey-Gomez said.

The Commissioner said all the Territory’s shelters have been inspected and are ready for operation. Additionally, each shelter will have a nurse’s station in place to ensure that people who go to a shelter have a COVID health screening, she said.

“That’s just going to be a form about whether you have been exposed to Covid, whether you have been vaccinated, whether you have a cough or other symptoms. But that’s part of your intake forms, so you don’t have to get a COVID test or anything before you come, but we will do a COVID screen or little survey before you walk in,” she said.

EPA Meeting and Refinery Cleanup

Director Motta also said Governor Bryan and members of his cabinet met Friday with Environmental Protection Agency  Regional Administrator Lisa Garcia to discuss the refinery cleanup effort and ways the EPA and USVI can collaborate to address the environmental challenges and opportunities confronting the territory.

The EPA has been conducting air quality monitoring in the community during the refinery cleanup process, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of this month.

Health Information Summit

Governor Bryan’s Office of Health Information Technology is hosting its second annual Digital Health Summit on June 14-16 at The Antilles School on St. Thomas to bring together leading experts and officials to further the Bryan-Roach Administration’s initiatives to expand and increase online resources available to Virgin Islanders to support their health and well-being. 

The Digital Health Summit attracts representatives from federal agencies and global experts in health IT, cybersecurity, doctors, and other officials from the digital health industry. 

Governor Bryan will open the summit with welcoming remarks, followed by a keynote address from Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, a renowned pediatrician who previously served as President Biden’s Special Assistant for Public Health and Science. 

Summit attendees also will hear from federal leaders of the Office of the National Coordinator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency. 

Additionally, national leaders from the health IT, data and analytics, population health, and other sectors will address pressing issues regarding data sharing regulations and advances, total person health enabled through digital means, and the financial sustainability of providing cost-effective digital health and wellness care. 

Governor Bryan established the Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT) in 2021 to enhance health and wellness in the USVI through innovative and transformative health information technology resources. 

The Bryan-Roach Administration is investing in the Territory’s people, infrastructure and future through transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible. Visit