CAMP WILLIAMS — It's not officially called "school" yet, but about a dozen of Hurricane Katrina's youngest victims participated in educational activities Wednesday on this military base.

The Jordan School District is awaiting an official OK from the U.S. Department of Education that will allow Utah teachers to educate evacuee children at Camp Williams, rather than busing them away from their parents into existing schools.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the school district had not yet received a requested waiver to the federal McKinney-Vento Act, which requires that homeless children be integrated into public schools, according to district spokeswoman Melinda Colton.

The waiver was requested late last week, several days prior to the arrival of evacuees in Utah, said community advocate Pamela Atkinson. "We knew even before the children came how important education was."

So far, 42 children have registered for school, 26 elementary-aged students and 16 high schoolers, Colton said.

Once the waiver is granted, the district will immediately conduct reading and math assessments on the children, said Cal Evans, district executive director of compliance and special programs.

"We'd like to find out what their literacy levels are . . . so we can keep them current," Evans said.

Classes on base will be run much like those at public schools, he said. "We envision that students would be instructed for a regular school day."

On Wednesday, eight certified teachers and two recreational therapists were on hand to work with the children. Evans said the district is prepared to instruct children at the camp as long as the service is needed.

"We are prepared to do whatever is necessary," he said.

Nearly 100 evacuees departed Camp Williams late Wednesday, and more departures are expected throughout the week as relocation efforts continue.

Families will also integrate into the community, Evans said, and children will become part of Utah's public school system that way. Jordan School District already has 14 new evacuee students who are living outside Camp Williams enrolled in classes.


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