FEMA and the Government of Puerto Rico are launching a comprehensive project to assess damage from Hurricane Maria to 1,110 schools on the island.
The 60-day assessment project, coinciding with the summer school break, will allow FEMA and the Puerto Rico Department of Education to determine eligibility for federal assistance to repair and rebuild schools.
Damage to schools from Hurricane Maria was widespread.
Dr. Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico Secretary of Education, said it was important to provide more stability for the island’s 319,000 public school students when the next academic year begins Aug. 14.
“This is a critical effort that will contribute greatly to the well-being of students and parents, and provide certainty that our students will be attending safe schools,” she said.
Justo “Tito” Hernandez, FEMA’s Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer, said results of the assessment will be important in identifying all potential federal funding to repair schools in Puerto Rico, including from FEMA and the U.S. departments of Education, and Housing and Urban Development.
“We have the opportunity to help transform the education system in Puerto Rico, and to build stronger and more resilient. We also want to incorporate mitigation (measures) to all projects to protect infrastructure,” Hernandez said.
The 1,110 schools will be inspected by four-member teams composed of FEMA personnel and contractors of the Government of Puerto Rico. The assessments will be conducted in three phases based on priority determined by the Puerto Rico Department of Education.
The first phase will be for 400 schools that are currently open, 271 of which are scheduled to take in additional students due to closings and 129 that are also designated as shelters during a disaster.
The second phase will be for another 444 schools that are open, with the third phase for 264 schools that are scheduled for consolidation.
For more information on Hurricane María recovery, visit fema.gov/disaster/4339.