After re-evaluation, all Baltimore County Public Schools and Offices are closed Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, due to inclement weather. pic.twitter.com/iKAeGGV30W— Baltimore County Public Schools (@BaltCoPS) January 4, 2018
Authorities finally closed down Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) after social media photos showed students suffering through freezing temperatures as they sat in chilled classrooms with broken heating systems and burst water pipes.
With historic “bomb cyclone” battering the region, teachers and students faced subpar conditions and frigid classrooms after schools across Baltimore re-opened after the holidays.
Parents and teachers took to social media to express furor over the poor conditions, posting pictures of students wrapped up in winter coats, sweaters and blankets. Some teachers even posted the pictures of thermostats displaying classrooms’ temperatures in the 40s and 50s.
Jesse Schneiderman, a teacher at Frederick Douglass High School, said the school’s environment was “miserable.”
Schneiderman told Baltimore Brew that several teachers moved their classes to the library to cope with the freezing temperatures. Numerous MacBooks and technology equipment were also damaged because of a burst pipe and fallen ceiling tiles.
This isn’t just “kids are cold.” Pipes have burst all over the building. CTE and speciality equipment worth over $1 million has been destroyed.— (((Mr. Schneiderman))) (@JesseOneT) January 3, 2018
Alumni room, just now: pic.twitter.com/cJ9lqgoIVn— (((Mr. Schneiderman))) (@JesseOneT) January 3, 2018
The residents of Baltimore were enraged by the negligence of BCPS.
Today, on one of the coldest days this winter, several Baltimore City Public Schools forced students to go to schools with no heat, bursted water pipes, and cold lunches.— K.T. Johnson (@theequeenkorey) January 3, 2018
This has been a problem since I was in school. BCPS, wake up! Our students are not prisoners, they're GOLD.
Only four public schools in Baltimore were closed Wednesday because of heat and water issues, but the others remained open through below freezing temperatures.
Observing the “unfair” and “inhumane” conditions of classrooms, the Baltimore’s Teacher Union urged BCPS president Sonja Santelises to shut down all the schools “until officials can get a handle on heating problems.”
“This is the best way to ensure the safety of our members and our children,” Marietta English, president of the teachers’ union wrote.
Responding to the concerns raised by the union, Santelises cited “unprecedented” weeks of cold temperatures and old buildings as the cause behind the frigid conditions in Baltimore’s classrooms. It is important to note some of the oldest Maryland schools are in Baltimore.
Santelises said one-third of Baltimore schools — nearly 60 buildings — were affected by the extreme weather conditions.
She also claimed that BCPS has responded to most of the complaints.
A heavy winter storm has covered the region with snow. Meteorologists have alerted the snow spell will be followed by chilling winds and freezing temperatures.
First BCPS decided the schools will open two hours late. However, the decision was later reverted and closure of schools was announced.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Carlos Barria