School Climate & Safety

N.Y.C.'s Stuyvesant High Reopens for Students

By Michelle Galley — October 17, 2001 3 min read

Stuyvesant High School in New York City opened its doors last week for the first time since it was evacuated following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

As administrators and teachers welcomed the school’s 3,000 students back to the building in Lower Manhattan, they were also making room—temporarily—for two more officials. City Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy and one of his secretaries set up shop at the school for four days last week to help quell parents’ fears about the air quality in and around the high school, which is just a few blocks from where the devastated trade center once stood.

Dust and debris from the collapse of the office towers made its way into the school, coating desks, chairs, and supplies and requiring a massive cleanup effort. “Every article had to be cleaned thoroughly,” said Kevin Ortiz, a New York City schools spokesman.

Four separate air-quality tests were also performed between Sept. 21 and Oct. 8, he said. The school system worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York City’s departments of health and environmental protection, and health consultants brought in by the United Federation of Teachers, the local union that represents the city’s public school teachers.

But despite the cleanup effort and air-quality testing, many parents remain concerned with how the nearby work to clear out debris from the World Trade Center site will affect students. A letter posted on the Web site for the Stuyvesant High School Parents Association warns that “the barge operations, and the related truck traffic and noise pollution, present a potential danger to the students and staff of our school and to the surrounding community.”

Those concerns extend to other schools in Lower Manhattan that were shut down after the attack and remain closed, such as the High School of Economics and Finance and the High School for Leadership and Public Service.

The district needs to ensure that the air is clean and that the buildings themselves are structurally safe before they can be reopened, Mr. Ortiz said. Students from the schools that remain closed have been attending classes at schools that were already overcrowded, said David Sherman, the vice president of the UFT. He added that teachers are using sheets to create makeshift classrooms in the corners of gymnasiums, and blocking off areas of school libraries to conduct lessons. (“N.Y.C. Schools Share Space; 8 Still Closed,” Sept. 26, 2001.)

It was not just public schools in Lower Manhattan that closed after the attacks. Five private or parochial schools located in the area were also closed, but have reopened, according to Frederick C. Calder, the executive director of the New York State Association of Independent Schools.

‘Extraordinarily Generous’

The flood of donations that has poured in since the September attack might help make life in the affected schools a little easier, UFT officials said. The union has spearheaded the effort to sort through and distribute the donations that include everything from jelly beans to backpacks to money.

In Washington, workers at the American Federation of Teachers, the UFT’s parent union, have held bake sales and ice cream socials to help raise $18,000 to add to the two different funds the union has established to help the displaced schools and the families of victims of the attack.

Others have sent donations for the schools.

For example, Scholastic Inc., a New York City-based publisher of educational magazines and children’s books, sent 3,000 pounds of books to the schools, and ABC Carpets, a local store, donated carpet squares for the children sitting on the floors in their makeshift classrooms, Mr. Sherman said.

And boxes of donations of school supplies decorated with crayoned pictures from classrooms across the country keep pouring in.

“People have been extraordinarily generous,” Mr. Sherman said.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Districts Are Centering Relationships and Systemic SEL for Back to School 21-22
As educators and leaders consider how SEL fits into their reopening and back-to-school plans, it must go beyond an SEL curriculum. SEL is part of who we are as educators and students, as well as
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
The Fall K-3 Classroom: What the data imply about composition, challenges and opportunities
The data tracking learning loss among the nation’s schoolchildren confirms that things are bad and getting worse. The data also tells another story — one with serious implications for the hoped for learning recovery initiatives
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School Climate & Safety Sponsor
Putting safety first: COVID-19 testing in schools
Are schools ready to offer a post-pandemic place to learn?
Content provided by BD
School Climate & Safety How Biden's New Actions on Guns Could Affect Students and Schools
President Joe Biden announced steps to prevent gun violence through executive action and a push for state and federal legislation.
5 min read
High school students rally at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 21 in support of those affected at the Parkland High School shooting in Florida.
High school students rally at the U.S. Capitol in February 2018, three days after a former student shot and killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla.<br/>
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
School Climate & Safety What the Research Says Teens Are Driving COVID-19 Surges. Can Schools Counteract That?
Teenagers and young adults are now driving COVID-19 cases in some states, and experts say schools may be critical in preventing outbreaks.
4 min read
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Climate & Safety Opinion Empowering Teachers and Parents to Speak Up on School Safety
Rick Hess shares practical suggestions from Max Eden on how to ensure school discipline reforms are indeed keeping students and staff safe.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty