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With No Power, Children In One Far Rockaway Family Can't Get To School

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TWC News: With No Power, Children In One Far Rockaway Family Can't Get To School
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When Hurricane Sandy knocked out more than two dozen school buildings in the Rockaways, the schools inside those buildings had to be relocated, but many students aren't coming. Education reporter Lindsey Christ visited children in one family who want to get back to school haven't been able to.

Midday Friday, 10-year-old Joshua Charles waited for free food to bring back to his five brothers and sisters.

He's not in school. None of them have been since Sandy hit. At this point, the family is just trying to survive.

"I go find food and by the time I come back, it's dark," said Navala Charles, the family's mother.

Things are back to normal in many neighborhoods all over the city, with school open all week and parents returned to work. But on the 12th floor of a powerless building in Far Rockaway, the Charles family is cut off from normal.

"It's been really hard and the kids can't go to school," Navala Charles said.

The six kids go to four different schools. The oldest, Brittany, has special needs and usually rides a school bus to Roosevelt Island, but there's been no bus since the storm. The driver left a message blaming the gas shortage.

Joshua and Preston's school, P.S. 333, is relocated an hour away in Long Island City. Ashley and Azariah go to Challenge Prep Charter, the only school in the city still not open at all. Brianna's school, P.S. 43, is now in a building in Brooklyn.

"I want them to be in school," Navala Charles said. "They're missing all the learning."

"Just sitting down there doing nothing, so bored," said Joshua Charles.

The city is communicating with parents through automated phone calls and website postings. But without power, the Charles family isn't getting the updates. They didn't know the city had found enough buses Thursday to shuttle kids from Joshua's and Preston's school and Brianna's school to their new sites.

But even with shuttle buses, it will be hard for Brianna. She's recently been through a series of surgeries and isn't allowed to go up and down stairs. First, she'd have to get out of her apartment, where the elevators aren't working. Then, she'd have to get into the new school building, which, unlike the old one, is not accessible.

What is Brianna most afraid of?

"If I'm going to forget what I learned and what was going on in school," she said.

Two blocks away, her classmates were returning from Brooklyn, on the buses her family didn't know about. NY1 met her teacher and passed on the message that Brianna is OK and that she wants to be back.

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