Public schools across the tri-county area have enrolled almost 400 students from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Florida Keys and Texas — all hit by hurricanes that shuttered schools and tore into neighborhoods.
Schools here are preparing their teachers, social workers and other staff for an onslaught of students who may show up weeks behind, having suffered trauma. They’re also teaming with local organizations to collect supplies. “We’re thinking that packing school supplies to come with you to Florida is not at the top of the priority list,” said Amity Schuyler, spokeswoman for Palm Beach County schools. “We will meet them where they’re at, we’ll help every family.”
One of the biggest challenges teachers may face is ensuring that new students stay focused: Kids can withdraw when they’re nervous, said Cristina del Busto, a clinical coordinator at the Florida International University’s Center for Children and Families. The more social support the students have, the more quickly they will get back into schoolwork, she said. At Somerset Academy in Pembroke Pines, schools are answering the call by assigning every evacuee a classmate buddy.