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LYNDHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It was back to school Monday for hundreds of New Jersey children who had been out of class since Superstorm Sandy hit.
But as CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported, because of flood damage, children in Little Ferry were sent to a school nearly half an hour away in Lyndhurst. Still, some kindergartners were applauding their return to school anyway.
Little Ferry teachers turned the former Roman Catholic school in Lyndhurst into a learning place for about 500 students. It has been set up to house kindergartners and first-graders, as well as sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
“With the town being devastated the way it was, we have had a lot of staff that lived in town,” said Rob Porfido, principal of Memorial School in Little Ferry. “It has been impressive how the teachers have come together, and with very little time, have put in a lot of time and planning.”
Teachers and students took the bus from Little Ferry together. School Supt. Frank Scarafile expected complaints from parents over the 30-minute bus ride, but said it was the only option.
“I told my wife before I left today, this would probably be the worst day of my career,” Scarafile said.
Yet, district-wide, 90 percent of students were in attendance Monday. And Scarafile got no complaints.
“My whole homeroom is here — 25 kids have attended this morning,” said eighth grade teacher Josephine Ciocia. “I was surprised. They are happy to be back in a routine.”
Most of the damage at the school was here in the middle school. The carpet had to be ripped out, and water was coming up the walls.
School officials said air test qualities came back clean, and they have begun doing asbestos tests in the other wing.
Students said they would take a long day with a bus commute over dealing with the Sandy aftermath alone.
“I was hoping to be back in school, because like, with all the things going on, with all the people coming to your house and everything, it was kind of like more, you got more nervous,” said Valentina Nowicki, a sixth grader.
“We’re learning, so it’s all right, added sixth grader Antonio Gigante.
And it was maybe even a little more fun than the usual desks and books, with kindergartners sitting on the floor and watching an iPad presentation.
To make up for the lost time, school in Little Ferry will now go until June 24 rather than June 18. School will also be in session on Presidents Day and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the winter to make up for the lost time.
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