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Busing One Block In The Road For School Attendance In Storm-Damaged Areas

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TWC News: Busing One Block In The Road For School Attendance In Storm-Damaged Areas
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Transportation was still an issue Wednesday even for schools that haven't been relocated, like P.S. 38 in Midland Beach, Staten Island, because students from such storm-damaged areas have been displaced. NY1's Patti Murphy filed the following report.

Families who normally rely on buses to get their kids to and from school are finding it difficult to coordinate transportation.

Most of the students from P.S. 38 on Staten Island are from Midland Beach. But the city says Sandy forced 70 percent of them from their homes, leaving the Department Of Education to try to figure out how to pick them up from where they are staying now.

"Our own office, the power is out and we are all displaced, but we're all working on cellphones trying to do as much as we can, the best that we can," said Uri Fraenkel of the Office of Pupil Transportation.

Displaced students can switch to a school closer to where they are staying or choose to keep going to their original school. If they decide to do that, the city has to get them there, but with a shortage of school buses after the storm, that is not likely to happen easily or soon.

Citywide school attendance was at 87.5 percent on Wednesday, but far fewer students are showing up at schools in storm-ravaged neighborhoods. Transportation is just one concern.

"Of course they're happy to go back to school. They say, 'We love school,' and, of course, lots of friends are missing from school. They're wondering, what happened to them? Are they alive?" said parent Vida Gutman. "We have lots of talking to do, and explaining that people are here to help us."

"Every single child has a story to tell from evacuating into a different place, from their parents throwing them up in the air because the water was, they were drowning — I'm sorry. It's been very, very rough," said Emma Dukhovny, a teacher at P.S. 38.

School officials have taken matters into their own hands, helping families by bringing clothing and supplies that they are collecting at the school directly to them at the shelter.

"We're trying to keep it as normal as possible so they're not as bad enough traumatized as they are," said Rose Marie Paciello, a school aide at P.S. 38.

Part of normalcy, of course, is getting back into the school routine, but that may take a while.

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