NEW YORK -- By now, New York City's nearly 1 million school kids should be safely home, but there are lingering questions about whether it was a good idea to keep schools open on Friday.
About 150 of the city's 1,400 schools had water damage. Pupils at Public School 132 in Brooklyn were evacuated to a school several blocks away because of a smoking boiler caused by the rain, and. Officials later said that message was sent prematurely.
The long line snaking around I.S. 228 on Friday morning was made of parents and guardians who rushed to the school despite the heavy rains, after they were notified to pick up their kids because the school had a building condition.
"There's a big flood downstairs in the basement. It's chaotic in the auditorium. They are not letting people get their kids. It took me an hour and a half trying to get my son," one parent said.
Schools Chancellor David Banks said the message sent by the principal, "was precisely the wrong thing to do. The conditions are worse outside of the schools."
The chancellor said he would address that situation with the school, but there were questions about why he and Mayor Eric Adams simply didn't tell parents to keep their kids home during the torrential downpour. They could have taken a rain day or even had kids learn remotely.
The mayor defended the decision.
"We should be clear that we have only a certain number of school days that we can utilize, and we must make sure we meet that. And, as you see, the decision was the right decision of we do not have any issues, dangerous issues at our schools. Our children are in the schools. They're properly being educated," Adams said.
The mayor said Chancellor Banks made the right call in keeping the classrooms open. Banks insisted that the remote option is always the last option.
"Our kids need to be in school. This is where they also get their healthy meals, as well. This is what allows parents to be able to continue their day and get to work and do all the other things that need to happen. Whenever we make a decision as to close schools, it is a major, major disruption. And so, it is really only used really as a last resort."
But Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso faulted the mayor for not giving parents enough information to make the decision to keep their kids home.
"I think people see flash flood warnings all the time. They might not understand exactly how severe one is going to be over another. But the mayor coming to a press conference or showing up and really letting us know that this is going to be severe, would change the tone, would have me prepared to whether or not we stay home and not take our kids to school," Reynoso said.
The borough president also called on both Mayor Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul to revamp their procedures for notifying New Yorkers about weather emergencies.
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