The “Winterpocalypse” Raises Concerns about Student Safety

It’s been a rough winter for the East Coast—the harshest that we’ve seen in decades. At first, the snowfall was a welcome sight for some students, but now, forecasts that even mention minor flurries of any wintery mixture have us recoiling with contempt.

The students of New York City have braved many meteorological phenomena this season, and it’s understandable that everyone is anticipating spring with gusto, but until then, it is possible that we’re going to have to endure a few more rounds of snowy madness.

Considering what a nuisance these weekly blizzards have been for everyone, one would think that students have probably have been allotted multiple snow days as a result.

As we all know, this is not the case.

So far, NYC public schools have only had one official snow day, and while students are notorious for seeking extra days off from school at the drop of a hat, some empathy from the Department of Education wouldn’t be unwarranted.

Recent uproar has festered over public schools having been kept open despite the dangerous conditions that have plagued the city. The most notable dissatisfaction occurred on February 13th, when schools chancellor Carmen Fariña declared schools to remain open after a foot of snow descended upon some boroughs (adding to the snow that had previously been on the ground).

Naturally, many parents questioned the Department of Education over the decision, and were left to wonder whether the students’ best interest was being tended to.

Tech students have been asking the same questions.

Adip Vora ’15 says, “Obviously on days where there are sidewalks caked with ice, we should have snow days, but it makes no sense to give us a snow day on a day where it snowed four inches, and not on a day where is snowed, then rained, then snowed again, leaving layers of snow and ice on the ground.”

Likewise, other students are also angry about the inconsistency of the DOE.

In a survey conducted to see how Tech students felt about this issue, eight out of thirty-five students said that they believed that the DOE should have closed schools more often this season, and none of the students agreed with the DOE’s decisions.

Interestingly enough, the other twenty-seven students said that while they didn’t agree with the DOE, they think that the first step should be in offering delayed openings, which would allow for more students to actually arrive to school.

Brian Ward ’15 states, “Tech’s student population consists of kids from many different boroughs and thus, even though it may be dangerous, just getting to school is a hassle along with getting home. Many kids took over two hours on a normally one-hour commute, because of train and bus delays. So therefore, if schools are to be opened in such conditions, they should definitely allot kids the time to get to school.”

It seems like a logical solution, so should we expect the DOE to avoid making the same mistake again?

Melanie Rosete ’16 offers an explanation and claims that “when people in those big offices make mistakes, they don’t like to admit it, and that’s exactly what happened. The chancellor and the mayor made a mistake and didn’t even say anything about it. Safety is supposed to be the most important, and it wasn’t.”

In contrast, Brandon Kow ’16 argues “the DOE is worried about the attendance percentage. The other time schools were open when it was essentially a blizzard outside, and the classes didn’t do much because of how little students came to the school.”

In any case, it’s been obvious that the safety of students has not been a priority as of late, which means that students will have to continue to persevere and hope that Carmen Fariña changes her perspective on the predicament.

Nevertheless, the best advice that can be given at this moment is to hang in there, guys, because spring is almost here.

12 Responses to "The “Winterpocalypse” Raises Concerns about Student Safety"

  1. Saad Khan   March 11, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    The weather is really on some next level mood swings flow
    one day it rains or its sunny and the next day it snows.
    How can a school be open with ice on the ground i do not know
    the school officials are corrupt and stupid and this goes to show

    Reply
  2. Tiffany Ly   March 11, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    This was a very well-written article and I completely agree with the quoted students. Many parents were furious because getting their children to school, especially those in pre-K and elementary school, was a difficult safety hazard. In addition to the difficulties of traveling through more than a foot of snow and ice, Farina decided to cancel all afterschool programs, leaving parents frantically rushing to schools to pick their kids up. If not a snow day, even a delayed opening would be appropriate. Hopefully Farina will learn from her mistakes and make better judgements next time.

    Reply
  3. Tyler A   March 11, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    There are good reasons for keeping public schools open. Its no problem for us to stay home alone but children in elementary school would not appreciate being left alone while their parents go to work. Although it may be unsafe for us to get to school, we need to remember that our age group is not the only one affected by the DOE’s decisions. If students really fear for their safety on days where school is still open, they have the option to stay home.

    Reply
  4. Loma D   March 11, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    It agree with the author because it doesn’t make sense that we have school is such terrible weather. It is a safety issue and the mayor and chancellor crossed the line this time. They took an unusual approach to keeping schools open and implying that kids don’t get hot lunches at home is very rude. It is especially difficult for high school students to come to school when their daily commute (in normal weather) is over an hour long.

    Reply
  5. Nathaniel Kleytman   March 11, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    I enjoyed reading this editorial very much. The writing piece has great flow and does not skip from point to point; the transitions help the readers comprehend the story better. I think the variety of quotations that the writer incorporated was imperative to the story. In addition to the quotations, the writer also takes on the view of the common student and implies slight disagreement with our current chancellor. These elements make the story engaging and relatable for the readers.

    Reply
  6. Olivia Dzumaga   March 11, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    I believe the DOE had not been acting with the students’ best interests. If the main reason for keeping schools open included meals, they should have allowed students access to the lunchroom and not mandating attendance. This has been a long and brutal winter, with snow still falling in March. Hopefully, next year the chancellor and DeBlasio would make a better decision.

    Reply
  7. Brain LI   March 11, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    It was nice to know that the city was trying to look out for us. Closing schools does affect millions of peoples jobs and education. Although I did not agree with DOE’s decision to open schools that day, they had considered the benifits against the losses. Parents who really didn’t believe that their child shouldn’t have went to school that day can simply disagree and keep their child at home.

    Reply
  8. Quan Y   March 11, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    While the commute that day was anything but easy, I feel that to be fair we should realize the difficulty of accurately declaring “snow days.” The first snow day we had, the actual snowing had stopped by midday. Imagine as mayor how hard it must be to argue that a snow day was justified when the city had stopped snowing by the time everyone was wide awake.

    Reply
  9. Seam Mainuddin   March 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    I think Farina is incompetent. Her argument about not closing schools was that Macys stayed open. If Macys were closed, it would lose millions of potential dollars. If anything, the DOE would have saved a lot of money.

    Reply
  10. Wesley   March 11, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    School should have been closed. The snow conditions were dangerous.

    Reply
  11. Emran A.   March 11, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    I agree, I think it was dangerous for us to have classes on the 13th of febuaruy

    Reply
  12. Marlena   March 11, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    I like this article. It uses a good amount of quotes. The survey conducted was intersting. Was it your own survey or was it someone else’s? I like the ending except for referring to the readers as “guys”. Not everyone reading this article will be informal.

    Reply

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