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As Relocated Schools Reopen At Original Locations, Attendance Rates Rise

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TWC News: As Relocated Schools Reopen At Original Locations, Attendance Rates Rise
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More school buildings reopened Tuesday after being cleared of damage from Hurricane Sandy, and thousands of kids made it back to class for the first time in weeks. But the story is very different at schools that have moved to temporary buildings, even with the city providing a way for students to get there. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

It was like the first day of school, again, at P.S. 253. But this time, the students showed up.

The school was one of 56 forced to move temporarily to different buildings last week because of storm damage. On Tuesday, when it re-re-opened in its Sheepshead Bay building, 92 percent of students showed up, compared to just 12 percent who made it to the temporary location in Flatbush.

Parents said the big problem was transportation. Because of a school bus shortage, the New York City Department of Education was unable to give kids a ride.

"We don't have a car," said one parent. "It's very hard, because we don't have the train, we don't have the bus."

Of the 15 schools returned to their buildings Tuesday, average attendance went from 12 percent to 73 percent.

There are still more than three dozen schools, however, that are not back in their buildings. About a third of those have oil spills to clean up, as well as flood damage.

The DOE was finally able to provide shuttle buses for all relocated students as of Tuesday, but attendance rates were still low.

450 students from P.S. 188 in Coney Island were relocated to I.S. 281 in Bensonhurst. Many of those students have still not made it in, though the school buses have helped.

"Our attendance began at 80 last week on Wednesday, day one for our students," said Frederick Tudda, the principal at P.S. 188. "Today, we're at 281. So we've increased quite a bit."

Though families and schools said they're happy to finally have transportation, students at P.S. 188 did say the ride was a bit rough.

"A bunch of kids screaming, a little girl screaming," said one student. "It was confusing."

As word spread about the bus service, it seemed things gotten more chaotic. On Friday, P.S. 43 had 18 percent attendance and a calm bus pickup. On Monday, more than double the number of kids showed up. A parent sent us a video and said the situation was so out of control, he left and enrolled his child in a school closer to home.

But the buses and reopened buildings have led to more and more kids finally getting back to class. The city celebrated a milestone Tuesday as citywide attendance broke 90 percent for the first time since the storm.

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