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25 migrant children start school in Dennis-Yarmouth district

The Ezra H. Baker Innovation School in West Dennis.
Dennis-Yarmouth Regional Schools
The Ezra H. Baker Innovation School in West Dennis.

Twenty-five students have enrolled in the Dennis-Yarmouth school system from the migrant families staying at a Yarmouth motel.

Sixteen students are attending the Ezra H. Baker Innovation School in West Dennis. Five are enrolled at the intermediate/middle school, and four at the high school, according to Yarmouth Town Administrator Bob Whritenour.

“The primary cost of the services that have been provided to these residents rests with the School Department, who reports that they've successfully integrated these children into their existing programs,” he told the Board of Selectmen Tuesday.

The state placed families in Yarmouth as part of an effort to find shelter for a growing number of homeless families, many of whom are recent migrants.

Locally, families have also been placed in Bourne and Wareham, among more than 80 communities around Massachusetts.

The state plans to reimburse school districts at a rate of more than $18,000 per student.

Whritenour said that number falls short of actual per-pupil spending in Dennis-Yarmouth, which is about $21,600.

But he said the school district has indicated the reimbursement will go a long way toward meeting its needs.

Yarmouth Health Director Jay Gardiner responded to questions about the vaccination status of migrant children enrolling in school.

He said the procedure is the same as for other homeless children: Students enter school right away, and school nurses follow up to see what vaccinations they may be missing.

“Through federal law … a homeless individual is allowed to go into school, and then they work through the process,” he said.

He said school buses are picking up children at the motel.

“Students are enrolled from that site, and that seems to be going smooth, very smooth, as well,” he said.

The state has contracted with vendors to administer vaccines to migrants.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.