(CNN) — Public schools in Palm Beach County, Florida, have begun enrolling Bahamian students who evacuated devastated islands after Hurricane Dorian, a school district spokeswoman said.
Fifteen Bahamian children had enrolled as of Tuesday, Julie Houston Trieste said. The young evacuees are welcome at any district school and can register at a central welcome office, she said.
Backpacks loaded with school supplies are being provided to the students by the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, which later will open its school supply store so evacuated families can shop for free, Houston Trieste said.
The district’s welcome center, which supports K-12 students “who were born or attended school outside of the United States,” also connects families with community resources to get them settled, its website says.
Dorian, the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the Bahamas, wiped out neighborhoods and left about 17% of all Bahamians, or about 70,000 people, homeless.
The White House has increased staff to help expedite the processing of US visas for Bahamian evacuees, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.
However, the Trump administration won’t grant temporary protected status, a form of humanitarian relief, to Bahamians. And no shelters are open for Bahamian evacuees in Florida, DeSantis said.