MARIA: Schools, UCF prepare for students from Puerto Rico

By Bailey Myers, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 6:57 PM EDT

As millions of Puerto Ricans continue to overcome the devastation left in Hurricane Maria's wake, communities in Central Florida are preparing for the possibility that hurricane refugees will soon make their way to Florida.

  • School districts preparing for Puerto Rican students
  • Osceola County setting up a plan to get those students situated
  • UCF to offer Puerto Rican students in-state tuition

Over the coming weeks and months, school districts in Central Florida expect a drastic increase in the amount of students from Puerto Rico who will be in need of an education.

With a 60 percent Hispanic population in Osceola County already, the school district says they expect a spike in new Puerto Rican students and are ready to get them into the classroom as soon as possible.

"They may not have records, they may not have immunizations, they may not have the physical exams," said Kelvin Soto, Osceola County School District board member. "The most important thing is that we will be able to enroll each and everyone of those students under a special program that we have while we get those records." 

With about 600 to 800 more students expected to come from Puerto Rico, Osceola County Schools says they will have counselors and social workers ready to ensure those students are integrating into their English speaking classrooms.

Osceola County and other districts throughout Central Florida say they are preparing portables, and several are opening registration for Puerto Rican students without the need of records temporarily. 

The University of Central Florida is also preparing for students from Puerto Rico.

UCF's Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to allow students to be eligible for in-state tuition, rather than having to pay out-of-state tuition.

UCF says so far 120 students at the school are now eligible for in-state tuition this semester and in the spring. 

Eligible students will soon be contacted, but student can also call the UCF Registrar's Office at 407-823-5510.