Putting Puerto Rico’s Schools Back on Track
Education Week in the Field
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s 330,000-student school system last fall, and many storm-ravaged communities still struggle to meet the basic needs of students and teachers. In October 2017, Education Week traveled to the island to document the storm’s initial impact. Recently, Assistant Editor Andrew Ujifusa, Deputy Photo Director Swikar Patel, and Video Producer Erin Irwin went back for an intensive, on-the-ground look at the hard work of reviving the schools months after the hurricane made landfall. Their reporting and related coverage is below:
Even in schools that are open, Hurricane Maria’s aftermath continues to pose physical and educational challenges for educators in still-recovering communities.
Five months after Hurricane Maria disrupted the island’s already struggling schools, education leaders disagree about how to get the system back on track.
School districts with large Puerto Rican communities are hiring bilingual staff and monitoring student evacuees for signs of trauma.
One isolated, the other in town, the two schools share a host of challenges in an area of the island hardest hit by Hurricane Maria five months ago.
In this collection of videos from Deputy Director of Photography Swikar Patel, see how the people of Puerto Rico are responding to the devastation of Hurricane Maria and working to rebuild their lives — and their schools.
Here is a peek at the photos from schools and communities in Puerto Rico that we're sharing on Instagram. For more, follow us.
Guillermina Rosado De Ayala, an elementary and middle school in Loiza, Puerto Rico, will soon have to close its second floor because the roof is deteriorating. Mold and fungus in second-floor classrooms have made students and teachers ill, and chips of paint flutter down from the ceiling. One classroom on the floor has already been closed off because it is considered too unsafe for classes. The closure means that the students will attend the school in two different shifts, and only for half days. This will cause major disruptions to children and their families. Guillermina Rosado De Ayala has power, although not every day. The school is located in a historically Afro-Caribbean community that has often been marginalized in Puerto Rico. Of the 512 students who attended the school before Hurricane Maria, 477 have come back so far. "They have difficult situations I cannot know. You see their faces and know they are (upset),” says physical education teacher Charlie Pérez Rodriguez, who has put bars around the generator at his home to deter thieves. Teachers were recently offered the option to transfer to another school in Loiza, but only three decided to move, said Zelideth Otero López, a long-time teacher at Rosado De Ayala. López’s daughter, Zelideth Ares Otero, also teaches at the school but is considering leaving for the United States. Photo by @swikarpatel #portrait #landscape #puertorico #education #schools #teachers #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram #students