Influx of Students from Puerto Rico Could Lead To Staff Shortages in Mainland U.S. Schools

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Plymouth Meeting, PA — October 3, 2017 — Close to two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and several other Caribbean islands, officials are reporting that only 5% of the island has electricity, and schools are not even close to reopening. As it begins to look more and more likely that many Puerto Rican students will need to continue their education on the mainland, some of the largest school districts in Florida, plus major cities like New York City and Chicago, are preparing for the possibility of an influx of students from this hard hit locale.

There are 1,113 public schools with a student population of 350,000 on the island, and only 400 of these schools have been assessed for damage, according to Julia Kelleher, Puerto Rico’s secretary of education. With an inflow of this magnitude, it is a strong possibility that many schools will not be adequately staffed to provide necessary services.

Therapy Source, Inc., a national provider of special education services and online therapy staffing, has committed to utilizing their full resources – including an extensive database of teaching and therapy professionals – in order to assist the many metropolitan school districts who experience shortages due to an influx of students.

“Our hearts are with these students and their families,” said Joshua Cartagenova, Co-owner and CEO of Therapy Source. “We know it’s important for the transition to be as seamless as possible, and are prepared to quickly respond to the staffing needs of these schools so that these displaced children can immediately resume their education.”

Since commercial flights have not yet resumed regular schedules, it will likely be several weeks before districts have a true sense for the numbers. 39 passenger flights were expected on Sunday in Puerto Rico, which has a maximum efficiency of 60 flights, according to CNN.

“We don’t yet have a clear sense of how many families and students might be coming into some of the larger metropolitan areas, but the devastating effect of Hurricane Maria is already being felt in some Florida district schools,” said Cartagenova.

Many schools have reported that they will waive the necessary documents needed for enrollment for displaced students and work hard to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Some students coming from Puerto Rico may have limited English skills, with many already weeks behind by the time of arrival in the U.S. Others will be experiencing trauma as a result of the storm and its aftermath, and will be in need of resources to address their emotional needs.

Said Cartagenova, “We have a robust network of education service providers at our fingertips. We are ready to provide qualified teachers and therapists in an environment of growing caseloads and limited budget. It is especially fulfilling when we can make an impact in
a situation such as the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, such as Maria.”

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About Therapy Source, Inc.
Therapy Source, Inc. is the premier national therapy provider of comprehensive in-person and online staffing services and solutions. A powerful presence in the educational sector since 2001, Therapy Source’s personalized commitment to service – and ability to facilitate rapid therapist placement – have resulted in partnerships with hundreds of school districts across the US. Therapists, psychologists, BCBAs, and special education teachers seeking placement – and schools seeking an agency to assist in filling therapist, psychologist, BCBA, or special education teacher positions

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