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The two law schools in New Orleans will resume classes next semester with more than three-quarters of their students returning to the still-ravaged city. At Tulane University Law School, 82% of its students plan to come back, said Lawrence Ponoroff, the school’s dean. At Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, 77% of its students are returning, said Dean Brian Bromberger. The law schools will start classes on Jan. 9. Although both schools suffered relatively little physical damage from Hurricane Katrina in August, they have faced serious challenges in making a comeback for the spring semester and in convincing their students to return to the area. “New Orleans is not an easy place to live right now,” Ponoroff said. The biggest drop in enrollment for Tulane occurred in its LL.M. program. Only 52% of those students will return next semester, Ponoroff said. But 97% of the school’s third-year class, 91% of the second-year class and 70% of its first-year class are coming back, he said. Some 222 first-year students are registered for the next semester, he said. Bromberger said that the percentage of students returning to Loyola, 77%, did not include about 45 first-year students who deferred enrollment until next year. The school’s overall enrollment before Katrina was about 800 students. Unlike Tulane, where many of its first-year students obtained visitor status this semester to attend other law schools across the country, Loyola established a temporary law school in Houston. Bromberger said that he expects Loyola’s operations to resume in New Orleans with little effect from the hurricane. $129 million in damage “I want to run the school as though nothing had happened,” he said. “If I was to close my eyes and pretend the rest of New Orleans didn’t exist, the only thing I could say was different is that we’re going to graduate a week later.” Damage from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita cost Loyola University New Orleans about $4 million and Tulane University about $125 million, according to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. One student not returning to the area next semester is Francesca San Roman. She was enrolled as a first-year student at Loyola law school and said she will continue as a visitor at the University of Miami School of Law in the spring. “Right now, I’m just concentrating on finals. If I think about going back, I’ll go crazy,” she said. Much of New Orleans remains devastated, with huge sections of the city still uninhabitable. The two law schools have arranged for children of students, faculty and staff to attend a charter school for next semester, since the fate of the city’s public schools remains uncertain. The law schools also helped their people find housing. Tulane, for example, has chartered a cruise ship that can provide up to 1,200 beds, Ponoroff said. The school also has contracted for about 400 modular homes. Bromberger said that most of the students at Loyola lived in an uptown area that received little damage. He said the school is continuing to address housing needs for people returning.

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