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57 schools won't reopen until Wednesday

UPDATE November 3: The list of heavily damaged schools that will not open on Monday was reduced from 65 to 57, the DOE announced late Friday night when it posted the list on its website. Of the 184 schools that did not have power on Friday, six regained power, leaving 178 without electricity as of 9 pm Friday. That number is expected to be reduced throughout the weekend as power continues to be restored all over the city.

Students at the 57 affected schools will not attend classes on Monday, or Tuesday when all city schools are closed for Election Day. Instead, on Wednesday, they will attend school at temporary locations that have been assigned to them. In some cases,entire schools have been relocated to one replacement location; in others, they have been split up by grades.

Hardest hit were the Rockaways in Queens. In District 27, some 20 schools are being relocated. In District 21, Coney Island Brooklyn, more than a dozen schools are being relocated. Students from John Dewey High School, where damage is extensive, are being sent to three different locations: 9th and 10th graders to Sheepshead Bay High School, 11th graders to James Madison and 12th graders to Lafayette. Four schools in Staten Island will be holding classes elsewhere, and six in Manhattan, including Bard High School Early College, whose students will travel to Queens to attend classes at its sister school, Bard High School II. No schools in the Bronx will be closed.

The school closings may continue to change over the weekend. We'll post updates as we get them, and be sure to check the DOE'S website for announcements.

Friday's report: Sixty-five Fifty-seven of the city's 1,700 schools hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy will not open until Wednesday, Nov. 7, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced on Friday afternoon. An additional 184  178 schools, many of them located in lower Manhattan, were still without power on Friday afternoon and it was not certain whether all would be able to open on Monday.

"We expect a sizable number to be powered up" by Monday, Walcott said, but noted that even if power returns, there may be more outages. The chancellor did not say which schools were seriously damaged, but Department of Education officials promised to post a list as soon as it is available.

Eight high schools will continue to house evacuees. Students will attend classes at these buildings, despite concerns about safety and hygiene at some of the evacuation sites. Ninety percent of schools will be open on Monday, Walcott said.

The DOE said it was possible some schools that move temporarily into other buildings will have a shorterned school day. That's what happened after September 11, when schools such as Stuyvesant, located near Ground Zero, moved to other school buildings for several weeks. Some saw their school day cut in half.

Today was the first day back for teachers since Friday, Oct. 26, and 80 percent of them showed up, the chancellor said. Teachers at all schools, including those that will not reopen until Wednesday, will report to work on Monday, although where they would report was still unclear.

Severe storm damage including flooding, fires, electrical problems and a variety of other calamities, is forcing the continued closure of 65 schools. The extra two days -- Monday and Tuesday, when all schools will be closed for Election Day -- will give the city time to organize, repair the damage at some sites, and get transportation and space-sharing plans in place for students who will attending school in different locations.

"We have to  develop new busing routes and have space allocation in place to make sure we can have two or even three schools sharing space," said Walcott.

Bus transportation will be provided for all elementary students whose schools are damaged and unable to open; relocating high school students will get MetroCards.

There was some good news: at least one school which was supposed to be closed until Wednesday -- Lehman High School, which serves about 3,000 students, will be open on Monday, after an emergency boiler was put in place. "That takes a lot of pressure off of us," the chancellor said.

There are concerns about safety and hygiene at the eight schools which will still be housing storm evacuees when classes reopen on Monday, especially at Graphic Arts Communications, where, one reporter told the chancellor, conditions were "disgusting."

Most schools that are sheltering people who have been evacuated are large high schools that have multiple entrances, the chancellor said, and the evacuess will be kept "isolated" from students.

"We're doing an hour by hour analysis about the conditions of [these] schools," said Walcott. "If it isn't sanitary [now] it will be sanitary."

He said he is working closely with the city agency in charge of homeless, to find "a balance of the people [evacuees] who have needs and making sure we are educating our children."

There will be grief counselors and other services available at the schools to help children who have been most affected by the storm, Walcott said.

This is not the first time that some New York City schools have been closed due to an emergency, while others have remained open, Walcott noted, citing the H1NI, swine flu, virus concerns in 2009.

When asked whether some schools might have a shortened school day because of sharing space with other schools, Shael Polakow-Suransky, the DOE's chief accountability officer said that was not the plan now, but it is something "that might be an option. I wouldn't rule it out."

The DOE said a list of the schools to be closed until Wednesday will be available Friday night. We'll post it when we get it.

(updated with new information 12 noon Saturday, Nov. 3)

Last modified on Monday, 05 November 2012 11:20

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