School districts dealing with influx of new students from Puerto Rico

Holyoke recently registered some 83 new students, Springfield registered more than 250

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The state’s so-called “Gateway Cities,” such as Holyoke and Springfield, are busy integrating hundreds of new students from Puerto Rico.

The Holyoke Public Schools have registered 83 students from Puerto Rico this week, while Springfield is integrating more than 250. Those numbers are likely to rise as more people from Puerto Rico reunite with family here in western Massachusetts, in an effort to escape the ongoing crisis on the island.

Springfield Public Schools spokesperson Azell Cavaan told 22News that they are making sure that the students- most of whom are in elementary school- are put in the right grade, and are getting appropriate language and special needs services.

“What makes this unique is that the paperwork that we usually rely on is missing in a lot of cases with these students who are arriving from Puerto Rico, because all the documents were destroyed,” Cavaan said.

Springfield school officials say they have not received any extra money from the state to deal with the influx of new students. Typically, new student reimbursement money is about two years delayed.

Cavaan told 22News that they are working hard to make sure every new student has a backpack with supplies, as well as clothes for the winter.