What is far down the list of dealing with the aftermath of Sandy is how Mayor Bloomberg handled dealing with schools, specifically students and teachers.
The Mayor made it very clear that safety was top priority. Let me try and explain what was dealt with in regards to the mayors decision, without power, and going into work yesterday (my power came back a few hours ago).
First, the majority of NYC PS teachers live on Long Island and all of their children were off from school on Friday for BLATANTLY obvious reasons. Teachers and students were ordered to stay home and decisions to open schools in such a devastating time will not be made until Sunday. I am guessing these reasons were not a concern for this mayor in dealing with students and staff of the school system he overlooks.
For obvious reasons there were not too many options as far as babysitting goes during the aftermath of Sandy so most teachers were forced to bring their own kids to unsafe buildings and neighborhoods. Schools that were set up as shelters have un-screened citizens roaming the building. Many who have resided in shelters include the homeless before Sandy and mentally ill.
Most teachers on Long Island do not have any power including heat, gas stoves, no running hot water for showers, and cell phone use was sketchy. The only sure means of communication was the radio and mostly this was used by turning on the car and burning gas.
The mayor made reference many times about how important it is for kids to get back to school but reinforced the idea of safety first (ha ha). He also gave the students until at least Monday (or longer) to deal with issues they may be facing before returning to school. The mayor strangely ordered teachers back to work on Friday, many who did not have safe school buildings with power. My school was not affected but the surrounding neighborhood was hit hard. Trees and downed power lines made it unsafe and the threat of having gas stolen from the tank at work made it even more stressful. Driving into Queens was very risky because there is no gas, law enforcement agents, traffic lights and people are driving over the dividers with intersections closed off. There is also looting at stores and people stealing gasoline in broad daylight from parked cars. Not exactly the best time to be on the road or away from your house.
Once we got to work we realized that it was postponed from the usual 8 am start city wide to 10am! Numerous teachers waiting in the cold not wanting to burn gas in their cars for TWO hrs before schools were opened! How could this be? The Mayor broadcasted several times how the teachers needed to report to their school are regular time for extremely important information for the return of children on Monday. Well, the Mayor sent an email at 12:51 AM to change the start time for all staff! Did the mayor not realize that teachers wouldn't be able to access their email accounts when there was no power? Was 12:51 AM is a good time to assure that all get this important information? Imagine how stressful it is to get ready in the dark with a flashlight for work only to drive before sunrise with no streetlights to get to wrk and find out the time was changed?
After waiting TWO hours in the cold because teachers were afraid to run their cars for fear of being stranded without gas the building was opened. My principal met the staff at around 11am (3 hrs later than arrival), until then she had no direction from the mayor or chancellor as to why and what important information was so vital for the students that teachers would have to risk leaving their families and coming into work in preparation for school possibly Monday.
My principal added that the mayor also has no plan at all (crisis management plan) for students who have lost loved ones or just dealing with outrageous situations for Monday when the kids arrive.
The entire staff was frustrated to say the least. This is how NYC tax payers money is spent by Mayor Bloomberg. Far less teachers will be at schools to take care of the kids on Monday if the gas situation is not corrected. Needless to say, I wont be at work on Monday if the gas situation is not dealt with. Burned my last bit of gas that could have been used better by going into work with no students, just like the mayor asked me to do........
Last edited by copernicus; 11-03-2012 at 05:41 PM.
When city kids return to their classrooms on Monday, some students will be sharing school buildings with hundreds of displaced New Yorkers – possibly including mentally ill patients who require constant monitoring.
City officials are scrambling to move some of the residents of emergency shelters to other facilities but, on Thursday, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott would not promise to keep evacuees away from kids.
Asked multiple times during a conference call with reporters, Walcott declined to rule out students having contact with people who’d taken refuge in shelters.
“Our goal is to have schools operational Monday,” Walcott said. “The shelters will be there and we will have schools operational.”
Mayor Bloomberg announced Thursday that city will consolidate shelters that are now housing 6,800 people in 76 schools. Since many of the shelters are not fully occupied, the city plans to reduce the number of shelters to 15 by Monday.
But city officials say they have not screened out criminals, sex offenders or dangerous individuals from the shelters.
“We are providing shelter to all those affected by this devastating storm,” said Department of Homeless Services spokeswoman Heather Janik.
As of Thursday, hundreds of residents from group homes for the mentally ill were still living in school buildings.
During a visit Thursday, the halls of the elite Brooklyn Tech High School resembled a psychiatric ward.
One man in an orange sweatshirt paced back and forth in a straight line, while another shuffled along vacantly, talking to himself.
Several men and women sat in chairs, staring at the floor, while about a dozen more chain smoked cigarettes in the sidewalk outside the school’s entrance.
At midday, a long line of Access-A-Ride transport vans showed up at Brooklyn Tech and began unloading wheelchair-bound men and women, presumably part of the consolidation.
The school, where 5,300 students are expected to return on Monday, will be a “special medical-needs” shelter, city officials said. It already hosts some 400 residents from Coney Island and Far Rockaway nursing and adult care homes that were ruined by the storm.
Many of the residents were heavily medicated, some unable to walk.
One of the adult homes, Surf Manor, was heavily damaged, inundated by sea water that flooded the first-floor and basement. Staff managed to gather the residents and their respective medications and bus them to Brooklyn Tech late Tuesday.
One resident who would only provide his first name – Jim—said when he left, the home “was all washed out” and he doubted shelter residents would be relocated quickly.
“I’m sure we’re going to be here past Monday,” he said “They’re going to move all these people out by Monday? Are you kidding me?”
The presence of schools being used as shelters caused alarm for some parents.
“How do they intend to do that?” Mechelle Brunson, a Brooklyn parent leader.
“It would be impossible for them to monitor the comings and goings of shelter residents,” Brunson said. “I don’t want to see anyone get displaced, but we also want them to be smart about what they’re doing . . . with our children.”
One volunteer told the News that the city workers and neighborhood residents who offered help at the shelter were “true heroes,” but said they’ve been overwhelmed by evacuees with serious needs.
Dozens of nursing home residents were brought in by ambulance early Wednesday morning. Some couldn’t walk or were incoherent.
“It was really horrifying,” the volunteer told the News. “A number of these patients had to be sent to hospitals. Many people were barely conscious.”