Just as schools were preparing to reopen for in-person learning — some welcoming back students for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020 — Tropical Storm Ida hit.
The damage caused by raging floodwaters and tornadoes had districts up and down the state once again beginning the school year virtually and delaying their planned reopening. At least one school is forced to stay closed until 2022.
“The idea that, for a school that has never taken in water, to have the Tenakill Brook flood over into the parking lot, flood over into the parking lot, flood this side, come so high that it leaks through the outer rooms, leaks into the hallway, and then pours into the main center, sunken area of the school, which we would have assumed is unable to have water in it from the outside, is crazy,” said Michael Burke, superintendent of Cresskill Public Schools. He estimated the damage to Cresskill High School in the millions of dollars, with the replacement cost of four boilers alone amounting to $2 million.