September 24 2021 03:30 pm

San Juan Unified School District says 27 students remain in Afghanistan

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Just days after 13 U.S. service members were killed in an attack in Kabul, the San Juan Unified School District says they are doing everything they can to try to get more than two dozen of their students out of Afghanistan.

“This is really a complicated situation,” said SJUSD Deputy Superintendent Melissa Bassanelli.

With about 1,400 students of Afghan origin within the district, Bassanelli said it’s normal for these students to go visit their home country every summer.

And this year was no exception, especially as the situation in Afghanistan started to become more tense.

“We realized that we had about 144 students of Afghan origin who were not presently in our schools but yet enrolled,” Bassanelli explained.

But as things continued to worsen in Afghanistan, Bassanelli noticed a group of students had yet to come back.

“Over the weekend, we did discover we had three families return, which included five students, so we’re down to 27 students who are a part of 19 families,” she told FOX40.

The district said many of the students who are affected attend schools that are mostly in the Arden-Arcade area, with Dyer-Kelly Elementary being one of them. They said they’re doing everything they can to help support those students and their families during this difficult time.

“We will continue to advocate for our community,” Bassanelli said. “We celebrate our diverse community and we stand with our Afghan families and advocate for their support.”

FOX40 reached out to the Department of Defense, which did not want to do an interview, instead referring to what President Joe Biden said this week regarding those left behind.

“There is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out,” President Biden said.

The district said they have a refugee support team that’s doing outreach to help the Afghan community with social or emotional support along with those needing help with food or rent.

At this moment, the district will be holding the seats for the students still in Afghanistan in hopes of their safe return. The district said they’ll analyze on a case-by-case basis how each student can catch up depending on when the student comes back.

The nearby Sacramento City Unified School District said an Afghan immigrant family with three children enrolled at Ethel I. Baker Elementary had contacted the district to ask for help in getting out of the country.

“The only word I can say is heartbreaking,” said district spokeswoman Tara Gallegos.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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