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Earthquakes Are The Latest Distraction To Puerto Rico's Schools

NOEL KING, HOST:

Public schools in Puerto Rico were shut down after a string of earthquakes and aftershocks a few weeks ago. One school collapsed entirely; other buildings had cracks through them. Kids had to stay at home while safety inspections were carried out.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

That's right. The schools have begun now to reopen, but some parents still are not happy. Here is parent Mariangeli Serrano (ph).

MARIANGELI SERRANO: (Through interpreter) The students say that when walking over the bridge, it shakes, meaning it's not secure.

GREENE: That bridge she's talking about there connects classrooms at the school her daughter attends.

SERRANO: (Through interpreter) Looking from behind, you could see another gap or, rather, a hole the size of about three hands. Also, it was obvious from the outside how the bridge is detached from the main building.

KING: Serrano and some other parents have been out protesting. They want the government to invest more in schools and make sure that they are built to withstand earthquakes in the future.

GREENE: Students in Puerto Rico have been dealing with disruptions to their education for years now. Alex Figueroa (ph) is a journalist who covers the education system.

ALEX FIGUEROA: Many have felt that they were getting a normal sense of things after Hurricane Maria. Then came this earthquake.

GREENE: Alex says these disasters have forced some to consider their futures in Puerto Rico.

FIGUEROA: That, in particular, has been a reason for many even to flee, to emigrate from Puerto Rico and move to the States.

KING: So while these families think about what they're going to do next, the island's education secretary says it is going to take the time it needs to ensure that the closed schools are safe enough for the students to come back. In the meantime, there has been an increase in home schooling, and some teachers have been taking the initiative, too, holding their classes outside.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.