Bracing for Sandy, The New School Cancels Classes Through Tuesday

 The New School announced in a statement early Monday afternoon that all university offices and academic buildings would remain closed through Tuesday, in response to “serious storm conditions” affecting New York City brought on by Hurricane Sandy. The statement requested students, faculty, and staff to “please make your safety a priority.”

Consolidated Edison trucks line Union Square as New York City braces for Hurricane Sandy’s arrival (Rey Mashayekhi)

University-sponsored public events initially scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, including “Vera List’s Legacy: The Democracy of the Print,” have also been postponed. New School spokesman Sam Biederman wrote in a statement that the university “will be in touch with information about program rescheduling.”

As New York City and much of the East Coast braced itself for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, The New School announced that all classes are cancelled and the university will not be open on Monday —  with the possibility for further cancellations on Tuesday.

The New School is far from the only institution in the city taking such precautions in response to Sandy. Most universities, as well as all city public schools, have cancelled classes and will remain closed on Monday, in large part due to a Metropolitan Transportation Authority shutdown of all mass transit services. The New School also closed all university-wide campus facilities at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

“The school is doing everything it can at the moment to keep its facilities secure,” President David Van Zandt told the Free Press. “Every precaution we can take, we are taking it.”

Van Zandt said security guards will remain on duty at New School facilities as the storm hits, addressing maintenance concerns and checking in with residents at university student housing.

The 800-mile-wide Category 1 storm will likely arrive in New York on Sunday evening. Over six inches of rain could accumulate before the storm passes, while tidal surges are expected to climax at eight feet. Winds may surpass 75 miles-an-hour.

Nearly 50 million people live in Hurricane Sandy’s current path, and one in five of them are New Yorkers. In neighborhoods across the city — most notably the South Bronx, Red Hook, City Island and Battery Park City — some 375,000 residents are being evacuated.

For those staying in the city, the MTA plans to halt subway service beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday night. City buses will suspend service at 9 p.m., while PATH train service will shut down at 12:01 a.m. Monday. This is only the second time inclement weather has prompted an MTA shut down; the first time was in preparation for Hurricane Irene in August 2011.

Van Zandt said that the extent of the MTA’s shutdown will determine whether classes will be held on Tuesday as well.

“If public transportation suspensions extend past Monday afternoon, the school will likely stay closed on Tuesday,” Van Zandt added. “Our university is largely made up of commuters. We need to address their concerns as well.”

Sandy has already caused at least 51 deaths in Haiti, government authorities there reported. Deaths have also been reported in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Cuba.

“Many questions will not be answered until tomorrow,” said Van Zandt. ”“We will just have to stay indoors and watch what happens.”

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