Campus of the East Adventist Regional Academy in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, is one of two schools in the region offering free enrollment in the aftermath of the earthquakes which have struck daily for over a month. [Photo: Puerto Rican Union]

February 14, 2020 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division

In the aftermath of a series of earthquakes, which have forced more than 800 public schools to close, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Puerto Rico is offering free enrollment to its church-operated schools across the island.

“We are not sure when schools across the island will open again and we understand that it is important that students complete their school-year, so we are more than happy to offer free enrollment to our primary and secondary schools which have classroom space available,” said Pastor Jose A. Rodríguez, president of the church in Puerto Rico.

“Our mission as a church is to serve and we do not want children to miss their school year more than they have already,” said Rodríguez. “We have some schools that have already filled those open spaces and are finding out there’s a long waiting list.”

The Adventist Metropolitan Academy in San Juan, Puerto Rico, already filled more than 100 spots to new students thanks to an initiative by the Adventist Church in Puerto Rico to help students complete their school year in May. [Photo: Puerto Rican Union]

The announcement was broadcast last week through national television channel and the print media.

The schools in the eastern part of the country are offering free tuition, registration, uniforms and school supplies to more than 130 students who have enrolled already.  In the western part, several schools are offering free tuition and 10 percent off the rest of the school year until May.

Some of the schools which were partially destroyed or damaged are finishing the school year in specially built temporary tents for the next four months, said Rodriguez.  “Our schools have been running drills in case of earthquake or any other emergency should they have to for security reasons,” he said.

Teachers and church members help set up temporary classrooms last month at the campus of the Southwest Regional Adventist Academy in Sabana Grande, to resume classes. The academy is located near the epicenter of the earthquakes which began over a month ago. [Photo: Puerto Rican Union]

Soon after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017, Adventist school facilities suffered some damage and classes were interrupted. As a result, more than 400 students left, according to Rodríguez. “That has opened the way for the church to pour in more resources and offer free or discounted enrollment until May,” he explained.

“Everyone is stressed out and anxious about this earthquake situation, especially the young ones, so we are providing extra psychological services and taking safety measures to students to relieve the stress they constantly live in,” Rodríguez said.

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