But McGill said school would begin, as scheduled Wednesday, September 7, even though the storm created extraordinary problems that she hopes will be ironed out by that date.
Phoenicia, representing the western end of the school district was devastated leaving roads and bridges washed away (see Page 1). Families have been displaced, and McGill said that it’s “important to return to normalcy where children will receive hot meals and a safe place at school.” Students will also be able to shower at the school.
McGill said that at this point there are three priorities: dealing with the powerless and difficult to reach Phoenicia Elementary; mapping transportation over roads that may have been washed out and bridges that could be uncrossable; and helping the community. Most administrators sitting at the conference table ready to map out a plan were still feeling the same effects of the storm and talk was about the difficulty in reaching all staff with phone service down. Everyone was tired, but happy to return to work, and many were carrying various electronic devices for recharging.
Town officials are projecting longer than a week to restore power to Phoenicia Elementary because New York State Electric and Gas have just arrived in Ulster County. “Fingers crossed, we will hope for the best by next week,” said McGill. But still, plans are being made for the worst case scenario. Should Phoenicia not be able to open by the first day of school, students will be relocated to other schools throughout the district. She said a plan is in the works on “how to best serve the Phoenicia kids, with little disruption.” At one point during the storm, Phoenicia Elementary principal Linda Sella said emergency officials requested to use the school as a rescue shelter, but water surrounding it made hazardous conditions. There was no damage to any facilities in the district. ++