Providence School District prepared to take in people fleeing Puerto Rico

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Puerto Rico is in dire need of help after Hurricane Maria tore through the American territory in the Caribbean.

Many are sending their loved ones to mainland destinations until the situation in Puerto Rico stabilizes. In Rhode Island, the Providence School District says it is ready to take in people fleeing from the island.

Providence Schools Superintendent Chris Maher said he’s talked with many residents in the capital city and believes school-aged kids will be fleeing the island and moving to Providence. This means the district will likely have an influx of students.

“It’s impacted our families, our students and it’s impacted our staff,” Maher said about the hurricane. “These are American children and they will be educated in Providence schools without question.

With most of the island still without electricity, Maher said they don’t know how many kids to expect.

“We can’t estimate a number of students or a timeline,” he said. “What we can do as a school district is get ready to support those students when they arrive.”

He said schools will be ready for any number of students, even if classrooms are full.

“Where we don’t have space, we will have to go out and hire more people to open more classrooms,” he said. “That is our obligation as a district, it’s our mission and it’s what we will do.”

Maher said counselors will be available to all kids as well to talk with them about what they’ve been through.