How schools are coping in aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria
James Nelligan, head of Baldwin School in Puerto Rico, writes about how the destruction and hardship after hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the area in September.
The road to recovery is a long one and his biggest worry is that children will not be able to continue their education. “As of this writing, maybe 15 percent of schools have reopened, serving only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of school-age children in our region. Larger independent schools in metropolitan San Juan, those with greater resources at their disposal, fair far better than smaller ones, and most have resumed operations. A small number of public schools are just beginning to come online. While this makes for positive press, their reality is heartbreaking”, Nelligan writes.
Not only material damage and loss of class time is a concern, but also the support that schools provide and the therapeutic role they can play in people’s lives is lost.
“Schools represent safety and routine in the lives of both children and adults, especially when safe spaces and daily routines are hard to come by”, Nelligan explains.
Baldwin School is fundraising together with the Caribbean Association of Independent Schools with the aim to support public schools most adversely affected by the hurricane. “We intend to provide block grants to public and independent schools in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands to expedite their recovery efforts. We are working to get kids, all kids, back to school sooner than later. Together, our Caribbean schools rise.”
Others are also concerned. For example, Whitby School in Connecticut, US, has been fundraising to help people in Puerto Rico affected by the hurricanes in September. Students of the school planned and hosted a “Harry Potter’s Hurricane Healers” fundraising event and raised more than USD$400 for Teens 4PR, a non-profit platform that helps young people raise funds for hurricane relief and reconstruction in Puerto Rico.