NYC Forces Students To Go Remote as High School Becomes Migrant Shelter

New York City mayor Eric Adams (Getty Images)
January 10, 2024

Students at a high school in New York City will engage in remote learning Wednesday after the city converted their school into a temporary shelter for migrants.

The nearly 2,000 migrants were staying at Floyd Bennett Field, a historical airfield in Brooklyn, but a storm in the area made conditions unsafe for them, city officials said, so they were moved to nearby James Madison High School.

"To ensure a smooth transition for families temporarily sheltering overnight in the building, our school building will be closed on Wednesday, Jan. 10, and school will be in session remotely for all students," Principal Jodie Cohen wrote in a message. "Students should plan to log on and participate in their classes from home."

Another communication from the school indicated that students would not receive live instruction by default, only upon request.

"Please log in to your teachers' Google Classrooms for your required assignments," the announcement read. "The completion of your assignments will dictate your attendance for the day. Teachers will be available via Zoom if requested prior by email."

New York City mayor Eric Adams's (D.) office said officials were fearful for the condition of the tent city at the airfield, as it was vulnerable to rain and winds that were forecast to hit up to 70 mph.

"To be clear, this relocation is a proactive measure being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals working and living at the center," said Kayla Mamelak, a spokeswoman for Adams, according to the New York Post.

Officials in the city, including New York City Council minority whip Inna Vernikov (R.), denounced the move and argued it was predictable given the exposed nature of the airfield.

"This is both unacceptable and entirely foreseeable," Vernikov said in a statement she posted to X, formerly Twitter, "as Floyd Bennet Field is vulnerable to all forms of inclement weather conditions and is not a sustainable housing facility. ... Our public schools are meant to be places of learning and growth for our children, and were never intended to be shelters or facilities for emergency housing."

The storm subsided at the airfield at 1:10 a.m. on Wednesday, and the migrants returned from the school by 4:27 a.m., the city's emergency management department posted on X.

The school's conversion into a shelter is the latest development in New York City's management of the migrant crisis. Adams has been vocal about the strain it puts on the New York, saying in September that the crisis would "destroy" the city.

The events at the school come after December saw authorities encounter over 300,000 migrants attempting to cross the border illegally, the highest single-month total ever recorded.