After two months of being displaced from their school due to the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, parents and children say they are thrilled classes have once again started at PS 207 in Howard Beach.
“It feels really good,” said Ava Shea, an 8-year-old student at the school, after classes were released Tuesday.
She said she did not like going to PS 232 in Lindenwood, where many of the displaced students were sent for classes while PS 207, at 159-15 88th St., was being repaired.
“I didn’t know anyone,” she said, “so I felt uncomfortable.”
PS 207 was one of a handful of schools severely damaged by Sandy that were scheduled to reopen in the last 2 1/2 weeks, with one more scheduled to reopen this spring, according to the city Department of Education website. The school was in bad shape after the storm, with the electrical system damaged and an oil spill from leaking tanks.
Some parents said getting their children back to school at PS 207 restored a little bit of normalcy to their and their kids’ lives. Dawn Morea, mother of an 8- and a 5-year-old at the school, said even though she is still struggling to get her home repaired, getting her children back to school makes things seem more like the way they were before the storm.
“At least for them they’re here for the duration of the day and they have a normal life here,” she said.
She described the situation at PS 232 as chaotic, with one of her children sharing a classroom with 48 other students and the other child sharing a gym with perhaps 100 others.
“He was sitting on the floor for two months,” she said. “They came home every day upset. They didn’t want to go to school in the morning .... It wasn’t pleasant for them and there was nothing I could do about it.”
Lisa Daab, who also has two children attending PS 207, said she was worried the crowded conditions at PS 232 were too distracting to her kids.
“I think it took a bit of a toll on their learning,” she said.
She and some other parents said they wished the school could have opened sooner.
“I don’t know why it took so long for this to happen, but who knows?” she said, saying she recognized that the school needed extensive repairs and cleaning. “I think the city handled it the best that they could.”
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said although there were some initial health concerns among parents about the school given the severe problems there, those issues had been resolved.
“We’re finding out now it was cleaned, all the health concerns have been addressed,” Addabbo said.
A representative with the DOE said that prior to the school reopening Jan. 2 an asbestos abatement had also been performed. The representative also said temporary boilers were installed and power was restored.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cn
©2013 Community News Group
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