Catastrophic flooding in Peru’s northern state of Piura will prevent 5,000 students from attending classes today.
According to Piura’s Regional Office of Education (DREP), safe access to roughly 52 schools in Piura and Tambogrande has been compromised and several schools have collapsed entirely.
“We are still in a state of emergency and though we are doing everything in our power to ensure that classes in all of our educational institutions begin this Monday, we know that 30 schools in Piura and 22 in Tambogrande will not be holding class on this date,” Pedro Periche, director of DREP, told El Comercio. “The buildings are full of mud and points of entry are destroyed.”
DREP declared two weeks ago the official revised public school start date for the region was Monday, April 17. Private schools were permitted to open doors sooner if parents consented and “safe conditions could be guaranteed for students,” Periche stated in the announcement. The recent torrential rainfall, however, will be pushing the already delayed start date back further.
Several schools in Montesullon and Pedregal Grande in Bajo Piura have reported mud deposits as high as 20 inches in their classrooms. Furthermore, flooding from the Piura river in recent weeks, which reached depths of nearly five feet, has swept away classroom furniture and educational materials from various institutions in the region.
“We’ve lost everything there was on the first floor: classroom seating, multimedia equipment, sporting good storage, maintenance workshops, the library, teachers’ lounges, administrative offices,” father Angel Carbajal of the Don Bosco mission school in Piura said in a press release.
Damaged drainage systems in the region pose an additional threat to school safety. Over 1,500 students at Montesullon high school have been exposed to infectious effluent as a result of the building’s collapsed drainage, the school’s principal told El Comercio.
Some school buildings are being converted into emergency shelters in response to high need. In the Catacaos district of Piura, existing shelters are reaching capacity at 12,200 children and adults, according to the city council.
Despite the lack of appropriate scholastic infrastructure in the region, creative initiatives are being implemented to educate students amidst the destruction.
“We want the most affected students to have school close by,” David Vera Tudela, general director of Decentralized Management for the ministry, told El Comercio.
The education ministry plans to install 80 prefabricated classrooms and 10 canopy tents near shelters with the highest rates of devastation.
La inundación del colegio Don Bosco Piura, en Perú, no detiene la solidaridad (Misiones Salesianas)
Lluvias en el Perú: desborde del río Piura generó temor en la población de Catacaos (La República)
Piura: unos 5 mil alumnos no empezarán clases este lunes (El Comercio)