Manassas Journal Messenger | Schools take students from evacuated area

As students across the area adjust to the new school year, at least 31 students in Prince William County are adjusting to entirely new surroundings.

As of Wednesday, the second day of the school year, 31 students displaced by Hurricane Katrina had enrolled in the county schools, Superintendent Steven L. Walts said at Wednesday’s School Board meeting.

At least 12 more displaced students are currently in the process of enrolling, Clarice Torian, director of student services, said Thursday.

So far, 24 elementary school students, five middle school students and two high school students displaced by the hurricane have enrolled in county schools.

One elementary school student, four middle school students and seven high school students are in the process of enrolling. Those students should be in the schools by next week, Torian said.

A list of the individual schools those students are enrolled in was not available Thursday, but the students are in schools throughout the county, Torian said.

Most students are staying with family and friends in the county.

As of Thursday, no displaced students had enrolled in Manassas City or Manassas Park City Schools.

Last week, the state Department of Education directed all of the state’s superintendents to allow  students displaced by the hurricane and staying with relatives or friends in Virginia to enroll in their schools.

The school districts were directed to treat the students as if they were homeless, as defined by the federal McKinney-Vento Act, which instructs schools to enroll homeless students immediately, even without the records usually required.

Once they are enrolled, the student services department is prepared to offer the students counseling and any other services they may need, Torian said.

“We’ve been receiving lots of information from national organizations on how to address the unique mental health needs of those students,” she said. “We have counselors and school psychologists at all the schools ready to serve them.”

Staff Writer Amanda Stewart can be reached at (703) 878-8014.

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