6:41 p.m. | Updated With mass transit shut down, hundreds of thousands without power and public schools in use as evacuation centers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that schools would remain closed Wednesday, the third day in a row, due to Hurricane Sandy.
The storm forced about 6,100 people into 76 shelters around the city, the mayor said, and nearly all of those facilities are housed in public schools. Some of those shelters lost power during the worst of the storm Monday night. The shelters are staffed by about 2,200 city workers, including public school teachers, as well as volunteers.
“We will continue to keep shelters open until people displaced by the storm can safely return to their homes or find temporary housing,” Bloomberg said.
Many students -- and school staff, no doubt -- welcomed the news of another day of school closures.
One appreciative high school student tweeted “YESSSSSSSSS NO SCHOOL TOMORROW OMG MAYOR BLOOMBERG MARRY ME.”
A third-grade teacher named Courtney Epton told SchoolBook that she is "spending some much needed time with my 16-month-old baby. I'm pretending we are living in a European society with proper child care leave, building large cardboard houses, baking cookies, exploring tape and stickers and velcro. "
But some families, especially those with younger children, may be questioning just how much more movie-watching, fort-making and board games they can take. And even though the storm has passed, conditions outside “are still dangerous,” the mayor said, with downed power lines, trees and debris. City parks also remain closed.
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Angel Cardena said her 12-year-old child is getting restless. "My son wants to go outside. Now it's not raining or windy and I'll take him out a little bit," she said. "We're watching the news, waiting to hear when school will open again. Hopefully, my son can return soon. It would be a waste for him not to go back soon because it always puts kids behind."
One mom wrote in to say her son Elliot, 7, is keeping a storm journal and sorting through all his old art projects. "He also invented his own card game (made out of post-it notes). We're hanging in there!" she said.
Meera Nair told SchoolBook she was planing a series of play dates for her 11-year-old daughter. This is after they "played Apples to Apples and the Wii. Cooked, then cooked some more. Planning to bake later -- so 11 year old and friends can help. Sigh! Can't wait for these kids to go back," she said.
One student from I.S. 61 Leonardo daVinci is making good use of the time off. Eustolia Toxqui said her sixth-grade daughter is going "a little crazy" but at least she is doing her homework. "She is getting ahead so she can go back to school with it ready and not get behind," Toxqui said.
On Facebook Natalie Udall asked for news about school openings, particularly at Mark Twain I.S. 239 for the Gifted & Talented.
"My daughter is eager to go to school already," she said.
On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, which was relatively unscathed by the hurricane, schoolchildren were out in large numbers Tuesday afternoon as the wind died down and the sky brightened.
A group of six middle school-aged boys shared lunch at Subway’s on Columbus Avenue near West 84th Street while younger kids rode their scooters along the avenue with their parents in tow. On West 87th Street near Central Park, several families with children, out for some fresh air, stopped to watch a tree removal crew lift a heavy branch that had fallen across two parked cars.
Most private schools in New York City followed the lead of public schools and cancelled classes again on Wednesday. Packer-Collegiate Institute, a pre-school-12 private school in Brooklyn Heights, was no different. However school officials made arrangements to open the school Wednesday for emergency childcare for younger students whose parents must return to work.
“Thirty teachers said they would come in and help out,” said Bruce Dennis, the head of school, adding that upper school students also had volunteered to help. The childcare would be offered to students in kindergarten through the 6th grade. Older students would be able to use the library to study.
Noting that the school’s marking period was scheduled to end on Friday, he said the administration was considering “rejiggering” the schedule to give teachers more time to grade assignments and students more time to complete work. “We want to do what is in the best interest of the kids, to try not to have them be victims of a set of circumstances that none of us can control.”