CRESSKILL – The school district suffered more than $ 1 million in damage from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, leaving high school and high school students wondering when they will be able to return to their classrooms.
Floodwaters ravaged Lincoln Drive middle and high school on Wednesday evening, as it prepared to welcome around 1,000 students in grades 6 through 12 after a year and a half of virtual education due to the pandemic of COVID-19.
The district received this week’s approval for virtual learning from the New Jersey Department of Education for middle and high school students.
It will be a temporary fix for students to start classes on Thursday, Superintendent Michael Burke said in a public statement.
“I have actively researched remote locations for our students,” said Burke. “I have been in contact with many closed parish schools as well as with businesses in our area.”
Bergen County Superintendent Lou DeLisio was due to inspect the damage on Tuesday and report to the Education Department.
The district has reached an agreement with Insurance Restoration Specialists, who began work Thursday to begin pumping water. Rockland Electric and the Borough have worked together to ensure that electricity and the Internet continue to work in elementary schools. Agreements have already been made with other schools to set up one-to-one individual special education programs.
Vow to rebuild and carry on
The cost of the mitigation work is estimated at $ 1.2 million, Burke said, but the district has flood insurance and is working with adjusters.
High school principal John Massaro videoed students and parents from the courtyard of the building to show that the building is still there and that they will be rebuilding it.
“It won’t be easy, but we’ll get over it and start our school year,” Massaro said. “Whichever road this takes us as we begin the year that we are going to take together.”
It is also a priority to bring sports teams and after-school programs back to the school’s outdoor properties as soon as possible.
“Our students need an immediate sense of normalcy,” said Burke. “Since the gymnasium, auxiliary gymnasium and the fields were not damaged, I am optimistic that it can happen soon.”
The district awaits the authorization of the catering and insurance for the return of the students.
Burke said the community, including the mayor and council, police and fire departments have all come together with their support.
The priority right now is financial support to replace internal school items like desks, chairs, Chromebooks, Smartboards, textbooks and other items.
“The Board of Education and I are working to get our students back to class as quickly as possible,” said Burke. “The community of Cresskill has shown resilience through repeated tragedies over the past decade. It seems unfair that our wonderful community has to face so many challenges in such a short period of time.”
Kristie Cattafi is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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