(Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)
New York City officials are coming under heavy criticism for their decision to keep New York City public schools open on Thursday despite freezing snow blizzards hitting the region dumping more than a foot of snow in many areas. While thousands of parents and toddlers as young as 5-years-old worked their way through the blizzards, New York Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency.
Teeange students, as well as parents and young children, were forced to fight their way through a fierce snow storm that consisted of wind gusts up to 35 m.p.h. as well as inches of a wintry snow.
The controversial decision to keep schools open was announced by New York City Chancellor Carmen Farina on Wednesday night before any snowfall had even occurred and also despite a travel advisory in effect throughout NYC.
"Due to anticipated inclement weather conditions, all school field trips will be cancelled tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014," the announcement read on schools.nyc.gov. "Schools will be open. Families with busing questions should contact the Office of Pupil Transportation at 718-392-8855. Parents, as always, should exercise their own judgment with regard to their children. Safety is a top priority for the Department."
On Thursday, Chancellor Farina and other officials received widespread criticism with people complaining that weather conditions posed serious safety threats to parents, children, and teachers.
"Farina. With your 30 years of experience in the school system... You should know better, shame on you," wrote Facebook user Beth Joy.
The United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew also slammed the Chancellor's decision to keep NYC schools open on Thursday.
"I understand the desire to keep schools open," Mulgrew said, according to ABC Local news. "The only thing that trumps that is safety. Having students, parents and staff traveling in these conditions was unwarranted. It was a mistake to open schools today."
Furthermore, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis deemed Chanellor Farino's decision as "misguided" and "nonsensical."
Nonetheless, both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Farina defended their decision, with the latter grumpily moaning, "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."
"The reality is that we make decisions based on what we know at the time," Farina later added in a statement. "Because this storm was so unpredictable, and what we heard last night is not necessarily what we saw this morning."
However, any sympathy they had won over was quickly swept aside when Chanellor Farino sparked outrage when she said on Thursday lunchtime that it had "totally stopped snowing," and that it was turning into an "absolutely beautiful day out there."