It's been harder to get kids back to school on the Rockaways than perhaps anywhere else in the city. Last week, we looked at why one family has been unable to get back, and when we checked back with them on Friday, we found an apartment full of kids in the middle of the school day. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
The lights are back on and the elevators are running again, but four out of the six children in the Charles family are still not back in school.
Life is a bit better than when we first met this family one week ago, but not much. They no longer have to carry food and water 12 stories to their apartment. They can charge cell phones, although service still isn't great. They're still without TV, internet and a car. The water comes out of the faucet brown.
"We out of touch right here. No information," said their mother, Navala Charles.
Under normal circumstances, it's complicated getting the six children to four different schools, but since the storm, it's been incredibly complicated, and Navala Charles says she's utterly overwhelmed.
She says oldest daughter Brittany's school bus driver still claims he can't get out to Far Rockaway, she doesn't want 4-year-old Preston to take a long bus ride to his relocated school, and Brianna is not allowed to walk up the stairs on the bus or the stairs to her new classroom in Brooklyn, since she is recovering from spinal surgery.
"I feel like I missed a lot," Brianna Charles said. "When my teacher gives me a test, I wouldn't know what to do because they went over all of that without me."
Joshua's bus stop is 10 minutes away by car, which they no longer have.
"I just miss school so much," Joshua Charles said. "I can't get my head straight."
The two children back in school, Ashley and Azariah, take a bus from their home to Challenge Prep Charter, which reopened in its Far Rockaway building this week. But even that's been difficult. On Wednesday, the afternoon bus didn't show. Navala Charles eventually walked half a mile in the dark to pick up her children.
With Joshua out of school, she avoided a similar situation at P.S. 333, where buses were delayed for hours Tuesday. And other parents at Brianna's school say it was chaos Tuesday morning.
By the end of this week, though, parents and teachers at both Brianna's and Joshua's and Preston's schools said the bus situation had improved dramatically. Now, the buses may no longer be necessary. Friday night, officials announced both school buildings will be back open Monday. The kids hope they go back as well.