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Schools Offer Help for Students Displaced by Hurricane Katrina

I’m Barbara Klein with the VOA Special English Education Report.

Students from areas hit by Hurricane Katrina have received offers of help from education officials across the United States. The storm caused severe damage in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama when it smashed into the Gulf Coast last week.

Displaced families are spread around the South and around the country at the start of a new school year. Some are in temporary shelters such as hotels. Some are with family members. Others remain in the affected areas but local schools may not even exist anymore.

In the city of New Orleans, two major universities are closed for the fall semester. Tulane University says it expects to re-open in the spring of two thousand six. Until then, the Tulane sports teams will play at five universities in Texas and Louisiana. Loyola University New Orleans says it will reopen in January. Its twenty-seven Jesuit sister schools have agreed to accept its students for the fall semester.

Many colleges and universities across the country have offered to accept students from areas hit by Katrina. Some including Harvard and Duke have offered free classes and places to live. Harvard, in Massachusetts, says it will admit twenty-five college students. Up to twenty-five law students from Tulane and Loyola-New Orleans could also attend Harvard Law School.

Duke University in North Carolina has offered to accept up to seventy-five students into its continuing education division. They must be from North or South Carolina, or related to someone at the university. And Duke said they must begin classes by September twelfth.

Some schools say they will collect payments, but will hold the money for the schools that the students normally attend. The United States Department of Education announced rules to make it easier for displaced students to get financial aid.

There is a cooperative effort among universities to develop online classes for students to take for free over the Internet. The project involves the Southern Regional Education Board and the Sloan Consortium.

Katrina also displaced a great number of schoolchildren. Schools around the country quickly began to accept young refugees from the storm. At the same time, other children around the country have launched their own efforts to help. To learn more, listen Friday for a report on AMERICAN MOSAIC.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Our reports are online at I’m Barbara Klein.