Puerto Rico schools resort to tents for 30,000 students on Monday

Puerto Rico schools are resuming on Monday after January 7 earthquake that devastated the island’s south and damaged over 84 schools in the region.

Over 30,000 returning students will be making use of tents as lecture classrooms are reportedly a long way from being rebuilt after the earthquake, as nearly 10 percent of Puerto Rico schools were affected.

Additionally, the department of education noted that Puerto Rico would be using tents as classrooms because there’s a high chance of another quake happening.

The Department of Education had earlier opened schools that hadn’t been damaged during the quake, while those affected were put on hold indefinitely.

According to the education department, the process of rebuilding the Puerto Rico schools could take as much as two to three years, which is why the students would have to start taking classes in tents.

Also, the department added that students and teachers would carry on with studies on a limited schooldays basis, making sure lectures end immediately after lunch.

The US Geological Survey said the aftershocks would continue for “years to decades” and that there is up to a 30 percent chance of an aftershock happening.

Puerto Rico schoolteachers’ reaction

Notably, announcing tents for classrooms, the Puerto Rico Department of Education had earlier deliberated on several measures to give aid considering the current situation of Puerto Rico schools.

After four weeks of deliberation, the department announced its plan to resume classes in tents until it thoroughly inspects and reconstructs the damaged schools.

Odette Báez, a Puerto Rico school principal, and the teacher’s union set up La Escuela Pública Vive, a volunteer-led initiative run in a park that is meant to engage students while school is out of session.

He said:

We wanted them to continue with their educational processes and at the same time receive socio-emotional support so that they could know that we are still on our feet, despite everything.

Jenniffer Santos-Hernández, a research professor at the University of Puerto Rico, said the authorities had not done enough to provide temporary schooling facilities for Puerto Rico schools to accommodate students back.

She said:

There is no sense of urgency, these are inhumane conditions.

Puerto Rico after the quake

Eight weeks after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake sent powerful shock waves across the island, and the people haven’t recovered.

The number of survivors still living outdoors has surfaced as a tricky challenge for local and federal agencies that are struggling to find housing on an island where more than 8,000 homes need an overhaul as a result of the quake.

According to the government mental health agency, Calls to the island’s suicide hotline have soared to up to 1,600 a day.