Continued School Closures in Puerto Rico
More than two weeks after Hurricanes Maria and Harvey swept across the island, the United States territory of Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover. Many residents still do not have access to electricity or to clean water, and schools remain closed. With 347,000 students in over 1,100 schools, Puerto Rico has one of the largest school systems in the United States. It is also one of the poorest school systems in the country. The closure of schools has not only a lasting effect on the education of children on the island, but also exacerbates the ongoing humanitarian crisis, because many children rely on the schools for free lunches and clean drinking water.
Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s education secretary, has set October 23rd as the deadline for all viable schools on the island to reopen. Viability in this case means that school buildings must be structurally sound, free of debris, and have water for sanitation purposes. Many schools in Puerto Rico may not be able to meet that criteria, as a number of roads remain blocked or impassable and access to clean water and electricity remains scarce. In tweets and interviews, President Trump has placed blame on Puerto Rico for the extent of the damage and has threatened to withdraw federal assistance for recovery efforts.
- Trump: We Cannot Aid Puerto Rico “Forever” (CNN | October 12)
- Puerto Rico Teachers Fleeing Hurricane Maria Arrived at Orlando’s Airport With Nothing. They Left With Jobs (The 74 Million | October 10)
- In Puerto Rico, A Daunting Effort to Reopen Schools, Headed by a Determined Leader (Education Week | October 9)
- Puerto Rican Schoolchildren Could be Out of School for Months (Washington Post | October 3)
Be a Part of the Process:
- Make Your Voice Heard:
- Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-2311 to speak with your Congressional Members about making relief funding and resources available to support Puerto Rican students and the reopening and rebuilding of schools in Puerto Rico.
- Contact the White House regarding the President’s statements about Puerto Rico and the White House’s plans to continue deploying federal resources to aid hurricane victims.
- Take Local Action: