Hurricane Sandy continues to have serious impacts on the Five Towns. Lawrence High School must close for the next eight weeks to repair its electrical system that was severely damaged by the Oct. 29th storm. Approximately 975 students will be attending the district’s middle school during that time, causing other students in the district to be displaced as well.
The shutdown began on Jan. 16. District staff reported to work that Wednesday. The school could be closed for eight weeks.
"We need to do what is safe and the fastest way to repair it is to shut the building down,” said Lawrence Board of Education President Dr. Asher Mansdorf.
This shifting of the high school students also causes all fifth-graders to relocate to the Number Five School, and all sixth-graders to attend the Number Two School.
High school senior Nicole Bae said she was frustrated initially with the administration's decision to close the school, but then realized it was in the students' and teachers' best interest. "Granted, it will be cramped and the seventh- and eighth-graders might feel uncomfortable. However, natural disasters happen and we have to deal with them as safely and calmly as we can," she said.
Superintendent Gary Schall said that as soon as the district learned that the high school needed to be repaired, district officials implemented a plan quickly. “Once we got the information we didn’t hesitate and moved expeditiously,” said Schall, who has deflected criticism of the shutdown. “We take our role as educators very seriously and we think we are preparing a very resilient generation of kids,” he said, referring to a school year that has also been interrupted by Hurricane Sandy.
Sandy caused the damage to the high school when a portion of the building in Cedarhurst was flooded. Initially, mold was thought to be a problem and the auditorium was closed for repairs. Mold remediation was conducted and was contained, according to Facilities Director Chris Milano.
The electrical system, which was being monitored, needs to be fixed as the saltwater corroded the wiring. All the parts have been ordered and there is a plan in place to repair wires, switches and get the school operable, Schall said.