State officials are giving guidance to the school administration in Connecticut on how to deal with students coming from areas affected by the recent hurricanes.
Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, on Thursday, released suggested protocols on how to help students arriving in Connecticut from Puerto Rico. These suggested protocols allow the students to have "immediate access to school and expedited connections to the services they may need."
“When tragedy strikes, it is often our children who are most at risk,” Malloy said in a statement on Thursday. “We anticipate many families affected by the disaster in Puerto Rico may seek refuge in our state. As required by federal law, it is imperative that young children who have been displaced are enrolled in schools immediately and are provided with health and other services necessary to ensure their academic success.”
The governor's office said they have received a number of inquiries from school systems "on how to supervise this potential situation."
“The emotional pain and trauma that these storms have exposed countless young people to is truly heartbreaking,” Wentzell said in a statement on Thursday. “As educators, it is our duty to ensure that all children of school age are given access to the safety, support, and stability that our school environments provide.”
Hartford Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said her district is working on a large-scale plan to take in families from Puerto Rico. Torres-Rodriguez said it includes academics, bilingual and bicultural consideration and social-emotional support following trauma.
“We want our families to know we're here we're going to open our doors to all of our students,” Torres-Rodriguez said. “Our students come to us with the significant amount of need must be tended to in order for our students to be successful.”
Torres-Rodriguez said the district is in a bind financially, but it won't refuse any child or family the support they need.
“We're certainly not going to turn our students aways. We have no choice,” Torres-Rodriguez said. “Not only do we not have a choice but it is our right and our commitment and so we are here. We are here.”
New Britain is another school district preparing. So far five students have moved into the Consolidated School District of New Britain following natural disasters. Two of them from Puerto Rico.
“We have to respond, not only as a school system, as a community as a state we have to respond,” Torres-Rodriguez said.
School administrators say they're not sure how many students may potentially move into their districts. Right now, it's so difficult to get in and out of Puerto Rico they will likely not see this influx for some weeks.
To read the memo to superintendents regarding enrollment of displaced children, click here.
For more information on the information packet on the educational rights of children and youth displaced by disasters, click here.
To read the information packet on meeting the needs of students displaced by disasters, click here.
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