TAMPA, Fla - 19 kids from Puerto Rico, and 9 from the U.S. Virgin Islands are now being taught by teachers in Hillsborough County. The goal, is to have victims displaced by Hurricane Maria, enrolled the day they come to sign up.
The transfers started trickling in after Hurricane Maria slammed the islands, causing catastrophic damage. The district sent a notice to principals at each school last week informing them the county was opening its doors to students from those areas so they aren't missing out on their education.
The district believes the number of students will go up as folks from the affected areas are able to get out, and come to the states. They are showing leniency when it comes to birth certificates, school records and vaccines, understanding many of those things may have been lost in the damage.
"When the students arrive, many of them will not have any type of documents because there’s too much damage, they weren’t able to get anything before they left. When it comes to vaccinations will be issuing a temporary 30 day waiver until those families can get their vaccinations for the children," said Tanya Arja, a spokeswoman for the district.
ESOL programs are already available at every school in the county for children who only speak Spanish, but the district says it is also an opportunity for kids to enroll in the duel language immersion program. They are also offering counseling for students and families, and staff who need it after the storm.
Arja says once the students are enrolled, it's up to their families how long they want to stay and will depend on where they end up living.
She says this has happened before during previous storms, "We’ve had some students displaced from Houston with Harvey, and also due to Irma," she said. "We’ve heard that there were some back with hurricane Andrew."