NYC-area schools return to life post-Sandy

A woman and her son scramble over a tree toppled by superstorm Sandy as she accompanies him to Public School 195 in the Manhattan Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. Monday was the first day of public school for New York City students following the storm of a week ago.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

NEW YORK The nation's largest school system lurched to life Monday, with all but the students most affected by Superstorm Sandy making their way back to classes on foot, ferry and subway.

Students at Stuyvesant High School, the city's most selective school, swarmed out of Lower Manhattan's subway stations after electricity was restored to the devastated area by the weekend.

"Being cooped up in my house for nine days was not fun!" said sophomore Nathan Mannes. "I did my homework, and when I finished that I played some video games."

Still, about 100 schools throughout the five boroughs remained closed because of storm damage, a lack of power or because the buildings were being used to shelter people left homeless by Sandy.

At least one with partial utility service persevered.

"We have power but no heat — so bundle up!" read a sign on the door of the Spruce Street School, which opened last year in a downtown high-rise designed by Frank Gehry.

About 73,000 of the city's 1.1 million public school students were told to stay home Monday while education officials scrambled to ready temporary space for them at functioning schools or to ensure power is back on at the schools they usually attend. Most will report to classrooms on Wednesday, after the Election Day holiday.

In hard-hit New Jersey, buses pulled up to Elementary School 14 in Clifton, where Sheila Carrasquillo dropped off her 11-year-old daughter, Layla. The girl is autistic and suffered through the week at home without special services normally provided at school, including occupational and physical therapy.

"I was trying to keep up some of the routine with her at home," Carrasquillo said.

A worker scrapes up mud and tiles from flood-damaged Saint Rose High School in Belmar, N.J., Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, six days after superstorm Sandy made landfall.
AP Photo/Mel Evans

On storm-tattered Long Island, Bethpage School District was among the few to open Monday. Curious students at Kramer Avenue Elementary School in Plainview asked each other if they had heat and electricity at home.

The answer was "no" for Lori Moerler and her fifth-grade daughter, Elizabeth. No heat, no lights and no water.

"You know what? We are very fortunate," Moerler said after bidding goodbye to her daughter. "There's a lot of people who have nothing. We have our house. We have our family. We're OK."

North of New York City, in Westchester County, Ted Johnson dropped off his two sons at Colonial School in Pelham.

"It's a relief, mostly for them," he said. "They get to go someplace where they have electricity."