Cayman schools taking in hurricane evacuees

British Overseas Territories residents who have evacuated from the eastern Caribbean to Cayman in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria will be able to send their children to local schools.

The government Ministry of Education announced a policy Wednesday, approved by Cabinet, that will let children ages 5-17 attend either public or private schools for the 2017/18 school year, which began in late August.

Spaces in government schools have been temporarily opened and school fees waived for evacuees from other British Overseas Territories. Arrangements with various private schools on the island must be made directly with those schools.

The government’s Department of Education Services said Wednesday that the registration process for public schools would begin immediately. Completed registrations and supporting documents are asked to be sent to the department as soon as practical.

“Having been through Hurricane Ivan [2004] and Hurricane Paloma [2008], I can empathize with the British Overseas Territories,” Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said. “I pray that they remain strong and have faith that their countries will be restored. It is during these difficult times we must come together and support our fellow Caribbean neighbors and provide them a place of respite.”

Immigration Department officials did not have a confirmed number Wednesday for how many hurricane transplants have arrived in Cayman since Hurricane Irma struck the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands earlier this month. However, it is estimated some 30 international companies have temporarily relocated at least one employee and their family to Cayman in the wake of the storm.

Those workers are being given special temporary permits allowing them to remain in Cayman, in most cases between 60 and 90 days.

In some cases, the family pets have accompanied the workers. The Department of Agriculture has commissioned a quarantine for pets that do not meet import conditions.

The Dart Real Estate company provided the quarantine facility, and the Cayman Islands government will pay for maintenance costs at the shelter for as long as the animals that do not meet importation requirements must stay there.

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