SAN JUAN – A total of 493 public schools in Puerto Rico will reopen for administrative purposes on Monday after being evaluated by assorted US and local agencies for possible structural damage caused by Hurricane Maria 46 days ago.
Of the 493 schools, 239 were reviewed by engineers with the Office for the Improvement of Public Schools (OMEP) and 107 by the Public Buildings Authority (AEP), the island’s education secretary, Julia Keleher, said in a press release on Sunday.
The Department of Education thanked the AEP and OMEP personnel for their efforts to achieve the objective of accelerating the opening of the schools and resuming classes, Keleher said in the statement.
She said that the opening of the 239 schools on Monday would be for administrative purposes only and that classes will resume on Tuesday.
Of the 239 schools that OMEP reviewed, 88 were fully ready to open.
Of the remaining 151, 27 cannot be fully reopened because there is no potable water service.
For the other 124, it is necessary to take temporary security measures, which will be worked out this week so that the schools may open on Nov. 13, Keleher said.
Meanwhile, of the 107 schools reviewed by the AEP, 51 were deemed ready to open, while of the remaining 56, there are 16 that cannot open due to lack of potable water.
The other 40 will require additional security measures so that they, too, can reopen on Nov. 13.
The operating hours for the schools that do not yet have electric service will be from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm, according to the Education Department and the Puerto Rican Teachers Association (AMPR).
Meanwhile, the Public Affairs and Public Policy secretary, Ramon Rosario Cortes said on Sunday that power generation in Puerto Rico has reached just over 41 percent of what it was before the storm thanks to the repair work done to the island’s electrical grid.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello had set 50 percent as the goal for the Electric Power Authority to hit by Nov. 15, and Rosario Cortes recalled that on Oct. 20 Army Corps of Engineers commander Todd Semonite said that that level could be achieved by January or February 2018.
“Already, today they’re saying that (50 percent) could be possible by the end of (November). This is due to the tireless work of our employees and to the fact that the Corps of Engineers is (focusing) on the needs of our people,” Rosario Cortes said.