Heavy rain Friday morning flooded 150 school buildings in New York City and disrupted the day for thousands of students and staff.
Chalkbeat New York reports that the downpour dumped 5 inches in some parts of New York City by early Friday morning. Service was slowed on every subway line, and dozens of school buses were delayed. Friday’s attendance rate of 77% was significantly down from about 90% the day before.
Schools Chancellor David Banks said 150 school buildings took on water Friday morning, and that one school, Brooklyn’s P.S. 312, was forced to evacuate because of a smoking boiler.
The extreme weather led some parents and educators to question whether the city should have canceled in-person classes. Banks reassured families that schools were prepared to handle the storm.
Many parents and educators reported that the rainwater had seeped into school buildings, flooding cafeterias and basements and leaking in through roofs, forcing students to move classrooms. On some campuses, children were soaked on their commutes to school, school staff reported.
For the hundreds of thousands of students and staff trying to get to school Friday morning, the commute was messy and in some cases harrowing.
“The street leading up to my school is completely flooded,” said Leah Ali, a student at Bard Early College High School in Manhattan. “As cars drive past, water reaches their headlights, and waves of water crash over students trying to make it inside.”
In her guidance to principals sent at the end of the day, Deputy Chancellor of School Leadership Danika Rux wrote, “Please ensure that your students who use public transportation have secured routes home.”
State and transportation officials said that getting the subways back up and running was a top priority, but that MTA buses were in operation and that the agency would deploy extra buses as a backup in case train service wasn’t restored by dismissal time.
The disruptions also affected students traveling by road.
The city’s Office of Pupil Transportation reported roughly 140 weather-related school bus delays as of 1 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Several parents and educators said the city should have closed school buildings on Friday and pivoted to remote learning, similar to snow days, or at the very least improved communication about the risks.
Video from CBS News New York: