SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Former “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda led a march in Washington, D.C. on Sunday for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
He’s calling on Congress to address the crisis still unfolding in the American territory.
Nearly two months after Hurricane Maria barreled through, about half of Puerto Rico is still in the dark, and school children in the American territory are getting lessons in patience and perseverance.
Daylight is the only way these first graders can practice English at Julio Henna Elementary School.
But no matter what the language, the struggles are easy to see.
Meals come in ready-to-eat packages, or from the one gas stove. But at least this school is open — even if it is a little dark.
But the government can’t tell us how many of the 1,100 schools have power. Teacher Juan Hernandez is still cleaning up after the hurricane.
“Parents, they think they can come to the school, but the Department of Education says they can’t,” Hernandez said. “We are waiting for answers.”
The contractor hired to certify the schools are safe was fired, so the National Guard has taken over.
Principal Debra Hernandez has a list of hazards.
“There is a leak that is important to fix,” she said.
But six weeks after the storm, many of her students have left the island.
“Since the storm we have lost 25 students confirmed, some of the moved to the States,” Hernandez said.
“The reality is we are not going to have the system we had on the 18th of September,” said education secretary Julia Keleher.
Keleher said Maria devastated a school system already in trouble, but she won’t put kids back into unsafe schools.
“Some school communities are willing to open their schools even though those schools have conditions that wouldn’t meet minimum standards in the States,” Keler said. It doesn’t meet her bar, though, and she said she thinks “some of the conditions are unacceptable.”
For her and a lot of parents. There’s one school that’s been without power for three weeks, but it’s still open. Fifty-six kids have transferred to Florida. Across the island, about 6,400 left for the mainland and enrolled in school there.
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