Watch CBS News

Back-To-School Scramble Heats Up In NYC With Parents Waiting In Line For Hours To Buy Uniforms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Students are getting ready to go back to school, and parents are scrambling to buy uniforms after a year and a half of remote or blended learning.

School uniform store Flynn O'Hara is just about the hottest spot in town these days.

The line Tuesday wrapped down and around the block with up to a six-hour wait.

"I'm hungry. I'm tired," said Monica Perez, of the Bronx.

"I just wish it could go faster," one child said.

On a 90-degree day, it was downright dangerous.

"There's someone who passed out on the line, too," parent Diamond Jackson told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

The store sells the uniforms for 150 different charter and parochial schools in New York.

"The school in particular, it only comes out of this store," one parent said.

The store manager says the line has been like this almost every day this month, and he expects next week will be even worse.

"Last year, a lot of the schools were not in uniform, so now, it's been, like, two years since the children have been wearing uniforms," district manager Anthony Algieri said.

Perez waited as long as possible to buy her daughter a new uniform because she thought the Delta variant might force them back to remote learning.

"I need the uniform, the gym clothes, the shirt," she said.

"There's a labor shortage in Pennsylvania, too, at our warehouses, so it doesn't help either," Algieri said.

The pandemic has also led to a teacher shortage nationwide.

One survey found 75% of school districts do not have enough teachers going into September.

Thankfully, that does not include New York City, where the vacancy rate is 2%.

On Long Island, however, school bus drivers in Nassau County are in short supply.

"We're definitely in a code red," said Marc Medina, Nassau County chapter president of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation. "Some operations are 20-30% short on drivers right now."

Back in the Bronx, parents who didn't make it inside Tuesday will have to come back bright and early Wednesday morning.

"You are able to order online, but it's 21 days," one woman said.

The Archdiocese of New York told CBS2 families who can't get a uniform in time should contact their principal.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.