Will Ross University School of Medicine return to Dominica by May 2018 in order to recommence classes for its students?

That post-Hurricane Maria return was the expectation of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit when he addressed the matter last December.

The latest word from Ross appears to contradict the likelihood of that happening, however.

A statement from the University’s Dean and Chancellor William F. Owen Jr to colleagues says, “Although we have made some progress in restoring our campus in Dominica, there still remains significant work to complete. The severity and complexity of damage to our buildings on campus vary”.

The statement points to a list of six buildings that are currently being renovated over the next six months.

Following the passage of Hurricane Maria in September, Ross announced in a press release that 1,400 students, faculty, and staff planned to relocate temporarily to Knoxville, Tenn. to continue their program of study.

Prime Minister Skerrit has been banking on an early return to the Ross University Campus at Portsmouth sooner rather than later.

He pointed out back in December that the government hoped “to get Ross to be back in May 2018 … we are also helping the property owners, the Dominican citizens who own properties in Picard to rebuild. That is why we have extended the loan facility at the AID Bank to the property owners so that they could have their apartments fixed, they could be able to buy some new beds – those who need beds – appliances and so forth so that they can get that going in quick order.”

PM Skerrit estimated at the time that about 80 percent of the homes Ross University needs for student accommodation was available.

The situation does not only relate to housing, however, as Owen is explaining.

He says, after listing the buildings that must be repaired, that “Unfortunately, there were additional buildings that were well beyond repair and recently demolished to reestablish a safe campus. We will determine what impact the loss of these buildings have on campus operations and consult with experts to reassess the campus master plan”.

Dean Owen does anticipate a return to the Dominica campus, but gives no firm date:

“As we remain committed to restoring our campus, we are closely monitoring Dominica’s recovery and other macro concerns that affect the ability to maintain an operational campus on the island,” he concludes.

The Ross Official speaks of a “successful transition to our temporary locations in Knoxville, Tennessee and St. Kitts for the 2018 Winter Semester”.

Given that statement, it appears unlikely that Ross University School of Medicine will once again be fully operational in Dominica before 2019