Maria school
Maria school
Now playing
02:04
Puerto Rico schools converted to shelters
Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, on September 12, 2018.
PHOTO: Julian Quiñones/CNN
Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, on September 12, 2018.
Now playing
02:42
See untouched water bottles in Puerto Rico
SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 15:  Uncollected debris stand near damaged homes in an area without electricity on October 15, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is suffering shortages of food and water in many areas and only 15 percent of grid electricity has been restored. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mario Tama/Getty Images South America/Getty Images
SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 15: Uncollected debris stand near damaged homes in an area without electricity on October 15, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is suffering shortages of food and water in many areas and only 15 percent of grid electricity has been restored. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:39
Puerto Rico revises Hurricane Maria death toll
title:  duration: 00:00:00 site:  author:  published:  intervention: yes description: Radio Isla had access to vans that contained water, food, medicine and hundreds of open boxes, many of them with reptile waste and in a state of decomposition. According to sources, the supplies were for the victims of the hurricanes.
PHOTO: Radio Isla
title: duration: 00:00:00 site: author: published: intervention: yes description: Radio Isla had access to vans that contained water, food, medicine and hundreds of open boxes, many of them with reptile waste and in a state of decomposition. According to sources, the supplies were for the victims of the hurricanes.
Now playing
01:24
Supplies sent to Puerto Rico found abandoned
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20:  A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mario Tama/Getty Images/File
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20: A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:47
Possible epidemic in Puerto Rico after Maria hit
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:04
Suspected deadly bacteria cases in Puerto Rico (2017)
With hurricane season starting June 1, CNN returns to Puerto Rico to see if the island is ready for another storm. Nine months after Maria, 20,000 homes are still without power- and going into the season, many mayors are worried that even a small storm will plunge them back into darkness and repeat the crisis all over again. We witness desperate Puerto Ricans illegally and dangerously turning on their own power, and press officials for answers on what will change this time around.
PHOTO: CNN
With hurricane season starting June 1, CNN returns to Puerto Rico to see if the island is ready for another storm. Nine months after Maria, 20,000 homes are still without power- and going into the season, many mayors are worried that even a small storm will plunge them back into darkness and repeat the crisis all over again. We witness desperate Puerto Ricans illegally and dangerously turning on their own power, and press officials for answers on what will change this time around.
Now playing
01:05
Questions surround Hurricane Maria death toll
Guest: Mayor Carmen Cruz from San Juan, PR (Facetime) Anderson in Studio 73 / Control 71 (channel 67)   Please record CTL 7100 Switched Please record CTL 7103 Clean Switched Please record CTL 7138 AC ISO Please record CTL 7139 Splits Please record CTL 7140 Big Smalls Please record GFX 905 Cruz ISO
PHOTO: CNN
Guest: Mayor Carmen Cruz from San Juan, PR (Facetime) Anderson in Studio 73 / Control 71 (channel 67) Please record CTL 7100 Switched Please record CTL 7103 Clean Switched Please record CTL 7138 AC ISO Please record CTL 7139 Splits Please record CTL 7140 Big Smalls Please record GFX 905 Cruz ISO
Now playing
01:59
San Juan mayor: Trump showed terrible neglect
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:58
CNN anchor presses PR governor on death count
SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 05:  Kids bike in an area without grid power or running water about two weeks after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mario Tama/Getty Images
SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 05: Kids bike in an area without grid power or running water about two weeks after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:36
Puerto Ricans repair power lines themselves
ricardo rossello
PHOTO: CNN
ricardo rossello
Now playing
02:13
Rossello: Hell to pay if data not available
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20:  A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mario Tama/Getty Images/File
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20: A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:20
Study: Puerto Rico hurricane death toll near 5,000
A Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority brigade work in a remote off-road location to repair a downed power transmission line in Ponce, Puerto Rico on November 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Leila MACOR, US-PuertoRico-power-weather-reconstruction-hurricane        (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
A Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority brigade work in a remote off-road location to repair a downed power transmission line in Ponce, Puerto Rico on November 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Leila MACOR, US-PuertoRico-power-weather-reconstruction-hurricane (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:20
Puerto Rico suffers island-wide power outage
Blue tarps are still the only roofs for some homes in Corozal.
PHOTO: Leyla Santiago/CNN
Blue tarps are still the only roofs for some homes in Corozal.
Now playing
02:46
Puerto Rico 6 months after Hurricane Maria
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:47
Deaths in PR still attributed to Maria
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:45
Hurricane Maria evacuees living in FL motels

Story highlights

Classes resume in San Juan and Mayaguez, officials say

Many students lost homes and belongings to the hurricane

(CNN) —  

As some public schools begin to reopen more than a month after Hurricane Maria plowed across Puerto Rico, Ezequiel Torres Rivas’ relatives continue to call a high school classroom in the town of Corazal home.

“All of us and all of you are stronger than any hurricane,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told students at a San Juan elementary school. “With you, we will build a new Puerto Rico.”

Classes began in regions on opposite ends of the island, in San Juan and Mayaguez, according to education officials.

For some of Puerto Rico’s 345,000 students, the resuming of classes is a major step. Roughly 3 million Puerto Ricans, or more than 80% of the island’s residents, have no power. About one third of households are without reliable drinking water.

Sixty schools opened in the capital and 59 in Mayaguez, officials said. Students from 24 other schools, which remain closed, attended some of the reopened schools.

Of the more than 1,100 public schools on the island, dozens were badly damaged, 190 are serving as community centers and more than 70 others are used to shelter families who lost their homes.

Rosselló stood with Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher as children planted a small tree on the grounds of the Julio Selles Solá School in San Juan as a symbol of resilience.

Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher this week said she wanted to resume classes for all as soon as possible but had to ensure the safety of students and teachers and that needed repairs were made.

“Schools are open as community centers around the island,” she said in a video posted on the education department Facebook page. “This allows families to return to work and assures our children and members of school communities have access to a warn meal.”

She said some schools in Bayamon, in the northern coastal valley, and in the southern city of Ponce are expected to reopen on October 30.

“Once we are certain that our students are safe,” she said, “we will continue to open schools.”

Keleher said the US Army Corp of Engineers has been evaluating school buildings. In addition, the education department has been consulting the teachers’ union about recovering lost classroom time as well as state education officials in the US mainland about ensuring a smooth transition for students whose families have left the island.

’They will … use the arts to heal’

In Corazal, clothes hang out to dry from the side of the local high school. Older people pass the time on small wooden chair desks. Ezequiel’s grandmother sweeps the floor of classroom 204 like she used to in her own living room.

They sleep on cots in a brightly painted classroom, where decorations still adorn the walls and a large plastic bucket surrounded by water jugs serve as the kitchen sink.

Ezequiel said he looked forward to returning to school.

“That’s where I saw all my friends, where I talked to them,” he said. “Now we don’t know when classes will start.”

Still, the possibility that the school year could be extended past June to make up for lost time did not appeal to the teenager.

“If classes don’t start, we won’t have a summer,” he said. “Summer is a blessing. We go to the beaches, to the river.”

Linh Tran and Raphael Rodriguez contributed to this report.