At P.S. 290, the Manhattan New School, there’s no gym, or proper school yard. So students in third grade and up are forced to spend recess in an Upper East Side street.

“It’s not really that fair, because we’ve just got a street with nothing really to do,” student Archer Haberman said.

Adults like Adam Seiden say it’s more than unfair – it’s also dangerous.

“Having the kids outside exposes them to accidents, it exposes them to potential violent crime, or then even a kid could just wander away, and it'd be very tough for a faculty member or staff member or administration member to see that,” Seiden, parent of another child at the school, said.

What You Need To Know

  • At P.S. 290, there's no gym or full-sized schoolyard

  • So children in grades three and up play in the street, blocked off by flimsy, moveable barricades

  • Parents want the city to build a rooftop schoolyard ­­­­­­­­– a project that's been bogged down by bureaucracy for years

Emily McKeogh's children are young enough that they have recess in the school’s tiny side yards, but she worries for the school’s older children, and for her children in the future.

“You've got a relatively flimsy, unmanned barricade protecting them. And it's you know, as a New Yorker, we know those barricades don't really deter cars from coming through, pedestrians, bicycles coming through and it seems like a real safety concern,” she said.

The barricades are easily moved – and were easily moved, repeatedly, during a recent afternoon visit by NY1. Some vehicles even drove the wrong way down the one-way street.

“It's either ambulances, police cars and fire trucks coming through, and then we have to stop going in the street. There’s either dead rats that our P.E. coach and janitors have to clean up,” student Juliet Haberman said.

Parents are pushing the city to build a rooftop schoolyard as an alternative. But despite getting local elected officials to set aside funds, the project, which would be helmed by the School Construction Authority, has remained stalled.

“We eventually got to a point in about 2019 where this was a go. We're now at the point where we're on the other side of that where the SCA says the project is no longer viable,” Seiden said.

The SCA told NY1 that the rooftop also presented safety issues – under FDNY rules, it needs two exits, and adding a second increased the cost beyond what had been allocated. But, with that change, the project would be feasible, and SCA says it is willing to revisit it with the area’s new elected officials.

Until then, children will have to keep dodging danger.

“It’s dangerous there. I don’t want anybody to hit me,” kindergartner Eva Noël said, as a motorbike screamed by behind her, “by a car!"