The districts vary in their ability to adequately meet the needs of these students, who had been receiving instruction, in many cases, in both English and Spanish. Their parents and caregivers have sent them to schools across the continental United States so that their education may be continued. Hundreds of schools remain closed or not fully operation as of early November.
The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College has been analyzing this migration, which may result in the loss of a significant portion of the island's population and future growth. Tens of thousands of school children and preschool children are among those who are resettling in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New England, and the Midwest. “What we are seeing is unprecedented,” says Dr. Edwin Melendez, Executive Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. “With Maria, everything has changed and it is important for us to make sure that the needs of the Puerto Rican community are met,” he added. Housing, health care, and language instructions are listed among the top needs of the children.
Some Catholic schools in Miami have begun welcoming their new Puerto Rican students. Hope Sadowski, coordinator of foreign students and administrative executive assistant in the Office of Catholic Schools in Miami, noted that while Puerto Rican students are generally fluent in English, making for what should be a slightly easier transition to academic life, the financial and health needs are unknown. It is also hard to gauge how many more may arrive and thus how to plan for enough bilingual teachers.
One charter school in Philadelphia explained it may find more bilingual teachers from the newly arrived Puerto Rican migrants, as teachers may not be able to return to their classrooms on the island.