Refugee children arriving in greater Saint John will get their first taste of the Canadian school system at a special learning centre in the city's uptown.

Refugee family

Refugee children arriving in the Saint John will begin their education at a special language centre.

District Superintendent Zoe Watson of Anglophone School District South says it was decided the best way to deal with the anticipated influx of hundreds of new children was to create a central location.

Prince Charles School was chosen because it is close to the city center and has empty space.     

"We're in the process of setting up what we're calling a district language learning centre there," said Watson. "So all of the new students, K-12, will enter the district through that centre and it will open next week."

'We do know that many may have experienced trauma' - Zoe Watson

Watson says staff at the centre will perform a series of assessments on each child to determine their education needs, language capacity, and emotional and mental health. 

"We do know that many may have experienced extreme trauma, loss of family, witnessing violent events, etc." 

Watson said for some children the stay at the language centre will be short, others, especially those in need of intensive language instruction,will spend longer there. She estimates about 20 children are now prepared to begin the process.

It all begins Wednesday when staff will hold meetings with refugee families. 

Watson says the district already has 620 international students from such places as Korea, India and Germany. "This isn't new to us," she said.