Students at the Children's Workshop School in the East Village recently got a lesson in the power of protest.

The school’s playground had been shut for nearly two months, after a neighboring building’s facade began crumbling on Jan. 7. Construction on the wall wrapped up nearly six weeks ago, but the playground remained closed, in need of a sign-off from the city's Department of Buildings.

So students planned a protest for Friday afternoon. Even before it happened, they got action.

What You Need To Know

  • The playground at the Children's Workshop School in the East Village had been shut for nearly two months, after a neighboring building’s facade began crumbling 

  • Parents and school staff made little headway over the last few weeks in getting action that would allow the Department of Buildings to sign off on reopening it

  • But after word got out about a planned student protest, the Department of Education installed a temporary fence, and the Department of Buildings gave the go-ahead for play to resume

“The word got out. And the Department of Buildings and the Department of Education heard the students' voices, and they came, and it happened right away,” Maria Velez-Clarke, the school’s principal, said.

Overnight Thursday, the Department of Education built a fence, which led the Department of Buildings to approve opening the schoolyard. Students got the news at their weekly Friday assembly, bursting into applause.

“In some ways, my kids were surprised. Like, ‘Wait, we didn't even have our protest yet! And the problem got fixed, like I want to protest,’” third grade teacher Miriam Sicherman said.

Sicherman helped the students organize their protest, which ultimately turned into a celebration.

“We talked about why the Department of Buildings might have decided to quickly fix this problem before the protests happened, and that they realized the kids need to be able to play, and it's not the kids' fault that this problem happened,” she said.

Parents say despite lots of outreach, before they planned to protest, they'd made little headway in reopening the schoolyard. That left students cooped up inside, which Krista Shafer's children said was "so boring! Boring!"

“Yes, so boring,” Shafer added. “Yes, we've had some very nice days where they haven't been able to come out and play."

Many parents told NY1 they are frustrated it took the threat of children protesting to get the fence in place.

"It’s pretty simple. They were able to do it in the matter of a couple hours, and the DOB was able to approve the fence, so that could have been done many weeks ago,” parent Sarah Singer Zaborowski said.

It was a major victory for the students, but they still don't have access to their entire schoolyard. A portion of it behind a construction fence is still off limits.

The Department of Buildings told NY1 that’s because the facade still is not safe and repairs are not complete. They say they inspected the wall five times prior to the fence installation, most recently on Feb. 29, when additional cracks were found. That’s when they told the school the vacate order could be amended if the area closest to the facade was blocked off — and they signed off on the new fence the next day.