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New York Schools Back in Session...Mostly

Guest blog post by Jaclyn Zubrzycki @jzubrzycki

After a full week out of classes, most students in the 1.1-million student New York City district returned to school today. The New York City district was one of 198 in the state, and many more in the mid-Atlantic region, that had closed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall early last week.

But not all New York students are back in school. Sixty-five of the district's approximately 1,700 schools are still closed today.

In a letter to New York families dated this morning, schools chancellor Dennis Walcott offered condolences to those who had suffered in the storm and gave an update on the district's operating status. The district provided a list of closed schools here. Some are simply waiting for power to come back on. Others were in buildings that were damaged enough that the district has already temporarily relocated the schools. Some of the schools that are back in session today are still operating without heat, the New York Times reported in its live updates.

BackToSchool_Blog.jpgStill other school communities are still waiting to find out what exactly will happen. The district's list of closed schools said only this for a number of schools: "School is CLOSED for students and staff on Monday, November 5. Please check the DOE web site for further information about when students will be able to report back to school." All schools are closed tomorrow for Election Day. The district made 1.1 million robo-calls this weekend to inform parents of their school's operating status, the New York Times reported.

The district is also making an effort to accommodate families who've been displaced due to the storm. (The city is struggling to determine how to house these residents, especially as temperatures have dropped this week, CNN reports.) Elementary and middle schoolers can enroll in the schools closest to their temporary addresses, and high schoolers can also apply to switch schools.

As communities start to rebuild, the storm has left New York City and other affected districts facing with a long laundry list of challenges, ranging from assessing and repairing buildings, to accommodating relocated students, to adjusting schedules and making up for lost learning time. Researchers have shown that the school missed due to snow days is associated with a decline in student performance—even without the additional turmoil caused by displacements and flooding.

Education Week collected its reporting on the recovery of Gulf State schools after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita here. And over on the Teaching Now blog, Anthony Rebora has collected some resources for teaching about this historic storm.

Photo: A woman and her son scramble over a tree toppled by Hurricane Sandy as she accompanies him on Monday to Public School 195, background, in the Manhattan Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y.
--Mark Lennihan/AP

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