EDUCATION
11/04/2012 12:25 pm ET

New York City Schools Doubling As Sandy Evacuation Shelters Will No Longer Reopen To Students

New York City officials have reversed a decision to reopen eight city high schools to students, NY1 reports.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg had originally said Saturday that students would share space with displaced New Yorkers who fled low-lying areas during Hurricane Sandy. And local reports reveal grim conditions.

According to the New York Daily News, city officials were working to transfer some of the evacuees to other facilities, but on Thursday schools chancellor Dennis Walcott would not commit to keeping the schools’ temporary residents — some of whom are mentally ill and require constant monitoring — away from the students.

NY1 reports the schools that will still be serving evacuees Monday are Brooklyn Tech High School, FDR High School and John Jay High School in Brooklyn, Graphic Arts High School, George Washington High School and Seward Park High School in Manhattan, Hillcrest High School in Queens, and Susan Wagner High School and Tottenville High School in Staten Island.

The plan to bring students back to schools with evacuees was heavily criticized. The decision Sunday adds the eight schools to the city's 10 percent of schools that will not reopen Monday due to severe storm damage. The 58,000 students from the 57 schools will be relocated to other buildings until Wednesday.

The relocation splits up grades within schools and sends students to other boroughs, a move that teacher say can interfere with schedules and separates siblings.

"Every effort was made to avoid disruption of teacher and student programming, but we acknowledge that, in some instances, schools -- receiving and sending -- will need to make adjustments," schools spokesperson Erin Hughes told The Wall Street Journal. "We appreciate the many sacrifices and accommodations that our teachers and principals are making."

A high school on West 49th Street smells like marijuana outside and like sewage inside, NY1 reports. Those interviewed said they were "appalled," calling conditions worse than that of homeless shelters. From NY1:

One man is captured on cell phone video urinating into a water fountain. A few feet away, there's human feces under a table in the crowded lunchroom. Upstairs, six of the seven floors have cots lining every hallway.

Some classrooms are labeled "for families," but there were no security checks, either at the main entrance or between the children and single adult residents. Many of the bathrooms were out of order. Volunteers said clothing was flushed down toilets. NY1 saw empty alcohol bottles.

This is one of the handful of schools that would have also been holding classes for students Monday. When the New York Daily News visited the school, nine school safety officers were trying to tackle a homeless man who had reportedly just slugged a baby.

City officials have not screened out criminals, sex offenders or dangerous individuals from the shelters, according to the Daily News.
 
“We are providing shelter to all those affected by this devastating storm,” said Department of Homeless Services spokeswoman Heather Janik.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

CONVERSATIONS