'I don't believe it': Parents furious over construction delays to Queens school amid COVID

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Friday, September 4, 2020
COVID News: Queens school opening in doubt amid construction delays
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Construction at PS-384 in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City, has come to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, and parents are furious.

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (WABC) -- Parents are furious over construction delays that has a Queens public school's opening date in question.

In the shadow of towering residential high-rises in Long Island City, some of the city's youngest children climb on playgrounds.

But while the kids play, their parents wonder when their children's new school be ready.

Construction has been roaring all throughout the pandemic at residential buildings.

However, work at PS-384 in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City, has come to a screeching halt.

"They continue to build affordable housing at a very fast rate ... so they're asking families to continue to move to Hunters Point," parent Meghan Cirrito said. "That construction has been deemed essential, but the school that's going to serve those families is not deemed essential."

The new school was supposed to be open by September of 2021.

In a recent meeting with an official from the city's School Construction Authority, parents say they were told the opening date is now in question.

"I was angry. I was in disbelief," parent Danielle Lee said.

An Eyewitness News exclusive two years ago showed bus drivers getting lost or going the wrong way down one-way streets.

Or worse, for weeks, students were getting stranded with no bus showing up at all.

Our reporting helped pass a law requiring a GPS on yellow school buses.

Meanwhile, some of those kids were forced to walk more than a mile to their temporary school, while their new school was being built.

Their temporary school is near the Queensboro Bridge.

There's so much traffic here, that there is no space for outdoor learning or recess.

Think about it. In a world of COVID, students here get zero outdoor time.

"All the parents who decided to send their kids to PS-384, initially knew that they would be in a converted office building," Cirrito said. But the promise and expectation has always been that, not only will our kids move into a brand new building, but the district's 75 children would move in on their own floor and a whole new Pre-K center is going to be built too."

In a statement, a school construction authority spokesperson said, "Construction was paused due to COVID. Due to the ongoing fiscal impact of COVID, it hasn't restarted yet. The goal remains to open this and all capacity projects on time."

After more than five months of delays and no construction restart date scheduled, parents are anxious and wondering how this school can be ready in time.

"I don't believe it. I don't believe it," Lee said.

Typically the city doesn't open schools mid-year.

So if this school misses its target date, parents will likely have to wait at least another full school year.

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