By Wai Man Wang ‘15
If jumping over puddles and avoiding messy sidewalks were considered an Olympic sport, those who came to school on February 13 would undoubtedly win an Olympic medal.
As the hurling winds and the wintry beast struck the East coast, Washington D.C was shut down and according to the Port Authority, approximately 6,500 flights were cancelled within the country, including 1441 flights coming from three nearby airports, LaGuardia, Newark, and JFK. Although NYC public schools were closed only nine times because of severe weather conditions, these statistics did not daunt the chancellor as schools remained open for those who needed hot meals and daycare facilities for busy parents.
“There was snow and ice everywhere. I almost fell. My face was freezing and the bus was so late,” said Emily Wang ’15.
With only 45 percent of the usual 1.1 million students present, Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to keeps schools open ultimately backfired as parents and students struggled to get themselves to school on time. Messy sidewalks, mini mountains and walloping winds made travel a hassle, thus the mayor declared a travel advisory.
One of the most frustrating and exasperating days of the year, teachers and students were unable to show up or were late to school because of travel issues. Packed and tardy buses were just the beginning to some of the commuter’s worst nightmares.
“On that day going to school was quite possibly one of the most frustrating days I’ve had in several years,” said Eniola Abdul ’15. “I was a little late but I’m pretty sure my teacher let it slide because he knew the situation outside as well.” Abdul also waited over 30 minutes for the bus to get to school, which is 6 times more than his usual 5 minute wait.
“It took the bus a long time to get to my stop because the bus was really slow,” said Helen Wu ’14. “I couldn’t even get on because there were so many people in the bus and on my stop waiting to get on the bus.”
Many classes in Midwood were only half full in the morning, with teachers and half of the student body absent.
Many students felt that they did not learn anything that day.
Rebecca Li ’14, who came to school in spite of the storm, waited 40 minutes in the wind and violent rain before she was able to get on a bus, saw that all of her classes were half empty even though some of the classes were important, like AP classes.
Chancellor Farñia argued that the decision was made by the information that was provided to them by the National Weather Service, and the information given to them by the NWS did not match up to what was seen Thursday morning. Al Roker, a meteorologist of the Today show on NBC took the time on Twitter to say that the NWS was “thrown under the bus.”
“She just rubbed salt on the wound to students who endured the weather conditions who winded up doing almost nothing in school,” said Li ’14.
Chancellor Fariña continued to inflame the anger within students, parents, and teachers by saying “it’s a beautiful day out there” even after pictures emerged depicting Chancellor Farñia herself struggling to step over the slew of wet, murky slush on the sidewalks.
“Nobody will blame you for making us go to school because there is a set of regulations to maintain, but there is no point in arrogantly fueling the fire of hatred she has ignited within all NYC public school students by saying something like that,” said Abdul ’15.
Amid the anger and frustrations, hilarious internet memes and posts circulated on social media. A few examples include: “NYC school chancellor be like ‘it’s a beautiful day outside’,” which depicted a photo of a fallen Lady Liberty with the NYC skyline in an end of the world-like situation. Another Twitter user tweeted “How kids are getting to school today because Mayor de Blasio said it was safe to get there,” which depicted a photo of children riding sled dogs. Close NYC Schools During School Emergencies, a popular Facebook page, was created during the midst of the news that schools were open, gathered thousands of likes days after the page was created.
“I thought it was making light of the situation and it was kind of nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who thought schools being open were ridiculous,” said Li ’14.
After having received so much backlash for their decisions, it is unknown whether Chancellor Fariña and Mayor de Blasio will continue to make poor decisions, what we do know however, is that the weather can only get better from here.
By Wai Man Wang ‘15