BOSTON (CBS) – Emirce Velasquez calls and calls but there’s no answer from or about her sister or her six year old grandniece in Puerto Rico. “I’m concerned about her, I’d like to bring her here with no electricity and no running water for a long time,” she tells WBZ-TV.
With Puerto Rico struggling to recover from two hurricanes that tore across the island, many families in the Boston area want to give shelter to their loved ones. It’s why on Thursday the Boston Public Schools became one of several urban school districts to start preparing for a potential influx of children looking for a seat in a classroom.
Superintendent Tommy Chang says coordination has begun with agencies throughout the city. “We want to make sure if families are coming here they have one point of contact to get all the services, that’s our goal,” Chang said.
School officials aren’t sure how many children to expect, but they are certain they will come with a broad range of needs from clothing to even immunizations.
Rev. William Nunez also has family with school-age children in Puerto Rico. The island is so devastated he says schools aren’t even open for students. “They’re using those schools around the communities for shelter and housing,” he says. “It’s devastating to hear children can’t go to school.”
There’s precedent for Boston which saw an arrival of students from Haiti after an earthquake struck there in 2010. Chang says they’re looking for every available seat. “Our obligation as a school district is to educate every child and make sure they are safe and welcome in our schools,” he said.