DOE responds to Bronx Fire
Yesterday, our city suffered one of the worst fire disasters in recent history, when an apartment building on East 181st Street was engulfed in a 5-alarm fire early Sunday afternoon. This utterly heartbreaking tragedy took away the lives of friends, family members, and neighbors—many of them young people with their entire futures ahead of them. Now is the time for compassion and community, and as an agency, we stand ready to assist. We extend our compassion and support to the students and staff members who lost someone they loved.
I know this community well and my heart aches for their loss. I know that the devastation it has suffered is unfathomable and that families have experienced unimaginable heartbreak. But I also know that when New Yorkers see their neighbors suffer, they step up and pull together. That is what we intend to do.
The DOE is working to ensure support for families. We collaborated with the American Red Cross to set up a comfort center for families displaced by the fire at IS 391, located at 2225 Webster Avenue. The center offers food, counseling support, and case management for families who need to relocate. I know that there are educators who are experiencing the loss of their students—we are here for you and highly encourage you to take advantage of the supports at your school.
The DOE will have counselors and social workers on hand at every school impacted by this tragedy. For any students who relocate, the DOE will assist with reassignments and new bus routes. Our schools are ready to help families during this challenging time. The FDNY has fire safety resources for families available at www.FDNYSmart.org. Please share this resource with your school community, along with this short public service announcement reminding them to Close the Door when evacuating from a fire (also available in multiple languages).
As a system of schools, we are all connected through the young people that we serve. Please keep your fellow educators and our students in your thoughts during this very difficult time and take time today to pause and reflect on this tragedy.
David C. Banks