Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery is a slow process

Hurricane Maria left devastation in it wake across Puerto Rico, turning the island completely dark without electricity at one point and closing more than 1,100 public schools buildings. Schools are reopening as community centers for now, and progress is slow, given the enormity of the task, NPR reports.

Ms Keleher is the superintendent of Puerto Rico’s school district, the third largest in the country, behind New York and Los Angeles.

In an interview with NPR, she said the island’s progress was slow but that she hoped to have public schools in Puerto Rico open their doors by October 23. “We have 345,000 students and 1,113 schools,” she told NPR. “Last week, we opened 22. This week we’re opening another 145. And then, I’ve identified 227 that, when we remove the debris, we can open.”

The reopening strategy is said to include some teacher and student relocations, as we reported, citing the Miami Herald, to districts like Miami-Dade, New York, or Chicago.

“My main objective is that every child in Puerto Rico gets a quality education,” Education Week quoted Ms Keleher as saying.

“If my system provides that, great. If another system in a state is going to provide that, that’s great too. What I’m committed to is to work collaboratively with the leaders of those systems so that our students get a little briefcase, and they can go. So that we help them. That’s what we’re here for. The adults can figure out what’s important to adults later. … I need to make sure if that kid goes, that kid has everything he or she needs to adapt.”

P.R. and S.D. National Guard soldiers distribute drinking water, Oct. 11 (National Guard / Flickr CC)

Families who stay will have between 35 and 40 school days to make up this year, which comes to about 270 hours. How they will do that may vary by school, since getting 31,000 teachers to come to a consensus about a single strategy is tough, let alone after those teachers have lost their homes in Hurricane Maria.

Some schools may opt for a longer school day, adding, say, two hours to each day. Other schools may decide to extend the school year into the summer. If they take the hourly approach, the schools will have to add some 270 hours to the school year.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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