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New York

City moves forward with opening schools in Sandy's aftermath

A line across the bricks of Brooklyn's P.S. 195 indicates how high floodwaters reached there on Monday night. Despite massive transportation problems, ongoing power outages, and dozens of buildings so severely damaged that they cannot be used in the near future, the city is moving forward with a plan to open schools by Monday, one week after Hurricane Sandy swept across the city. On Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that students would return to classes next week and that teachers would be required to report for work on Friday to prepare. Chancellor Dennis Walcott told reporters today that the timeline was firm. "There are no ifs ands or buts about it," Walcott said. "They will open. We know they'll open." But exactly where each of the schools will open is an unresolved question. Of the city's roughly 1,200 school buildings, 174 are still not operational today because of flooding, loss of power, or other damages, Walcott said, a number that had declined by about 25 since Wednesday. Of them, 44 buildings housing 79 schools are considered "severely damaged" and will have to undergo major repairs before they are safe for students, he said. The severely damaged schools include Brooklyn's John Dewey High School, where officials said today a transformer fire had essentially burned through the building's electrical system, and Beach Channel High School in Queens, where flooding caused the school's boiler to burst and leak oil into Jamaica Bay. Walcott said the department was now working with city's Department of Environmental Protection to contain the spill. Students and teachers from the severely damaged schools, and from schools that still do not have power, will be sent to other locations when classes resume on Monday. The alternate locations, which could involve dividing some schools across multiple sites, had not yet been finalized this afternoon, Walcott said.
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