Better safe than sorry: BPS closes schools for Thursday

Kids go "Yay!" Kids refuse to listen to parents about how this means they'll have yet another day of school at the end of June.

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This pre-cancelation has to stop

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In my day, unless it was sure to blizzard, they wouldn't cancel school until it actually showed signs of snowing.

Nothing yet, and really not much coming. When it snows 2" and all melts by morning, it will be very silly indeed.

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Hey Ari

How many kids do you need to find daycare for?

Have your kids ever been stuck at school (or ended up on the other side of a weather disaster, like a flooded road) because weather conditions are keeping them from getting home?

If you want war stories, parents can tell you plenty of them.Perhaps you should listen to people who don't have the flexibility that you do to deal with school closings and weather conditions.

Will you be volunteering to help teachers break the locks on school freezers and find a way to light the ovens to feed a school full of kids that are stuck until after midnight (as happened in Boston in recent memory)? I doubt it.

My husband barely made it home alive from school during the '78 blizzard because of people who disregarded the forecast until it was too late.

Go look at the forecast again while you are at it. You are being as daft as the people who think they can just drive through a flooded underpass.

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My Blizzard of 78 story differs

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"My husband barely made it home alive from school during the '78 blizzard because of people who disregarded the forecast until it was too late."

Really? I made it home from school during the Blizzard of 78 with minimal trouble. I even stopped in a store on the way home. And I took the T to boot, which ran during the bulk of the blizzard until it just couldn't run anymore.

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How rugged and manly of you

If only all men were able to achieve such levels of endurance, masculinity, and have enough energy left to bully members of online forums. I do notice that you've posted as an anon though. Is that because if your wife catches you online she'll kick your ass?

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I was seven years old

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And for some reason I walked home. It was neither easy nor fun.

Something tells me you didn’t live in the Boston area in February of 1978.

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Ah yes, city kid

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South shore was different - no buses and whiteout.

Wow you are so impressive! You took the T!

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Counterview

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While I understand and agree with the sentiment here, for some of us, it is irrelevant whether there is "advance warning". There is no daycare alternative other than a vacation day for one of us (and we're lucky to have that alternative).

Accordingly, I generally prefer that the decision to cancel or delay not be made until the latest reasonable time the morning of to avoid situations like this. I have made this point repeatedly to the superintendents in the communities which affect us, and I think that it (thankfully) has not fallen on deaf ears. They got it right today - as they should have.

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In circumstances like today,

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In circumstances like today, Boston offers a free drop off care program at community centers, for children ages 7 and up. This is somewhat safer than school in that they don't have to run buses for it, and you can choose the community center closest to your home (I drive past two community centers and three public elementary schools to get my kids to their assigned public school, and I thank god every day that I got them assigned to school in the same building - not all BPS parents have that).

Before my kids were both old enough for drop off, I sometimes had the vacation day or nothing option too, and even then, I found the 4 p.m. notification useful in that i could talk to my boss, set expectations, and shuffle workload so I could focus on things that could be accomplished from home.

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I gotta agree with Swirls

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Look, I had to pick up junior hours early due to early dismissal, and as of over an hour after the end of extended care, no a flake has fallen yet. That said, if what happened yesterday actually happened and they didn’t call early, they would have told us at 10 AM they were closing, meaning all parents would be scrambling to get to their kids. This is literally better safe than sorry.

That said, my guess was that they were going to open tomorrow because they have already hit 5 snow days for the year. Whatever. If junior’s school cancels, we can plan tonight rather than scrambling in the morning. My guess is that the morning commute is going to be a bear.

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Did you walk to school?

It’s transit that’s the big problem. If kids are already in transit for an hour or more, a blizzard doesn’t have to be epic to louse things up.

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We walk to school

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And even though I was rooting for school, I did imagine the 10 minute walk being horrible. The walk home would probably be good, but since the storm will be winding down at around 7, I don’t see much being done at that time.

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In my day,...

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In my day,...

Old_Man_Yells_at_Cloud.jpg

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Look him up

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He didn't even get to Massachusetts until 2008.

Gots lots to say about the T not running, as though the T not running well is somehow not connected to school being called off early.

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Look Here

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Ari O was in Massachusetts decades prior to 2008. (No relation).

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Also, Ice

Which is what I'm worried about (though I'm not in Boston).

I've been watching the temperature projections, and there's a non-trivial chance that this will have a fair component of freezing rain, along with sleet &/or graupel, which will make any untreated surface unwalkable. And it won't really melt until midafternoon.

Our usual check is:

  1. Plow wall taller than my knee? No school — the parking and driveway won't get plowed out in time.
  2. Unable to reach my driveway due to continuous ice down my patio and walkway? No school — the sidewalks and ramp won't get melted in time
  3. Power out at the Arsenal? No school, because power's out at school too.

If the storm actually penetrates the dry-air shield hovering over Boston, we'll get an e-mail about 6am with the definitive decision, but honestly, I think most of us north of the Pike and west of 93 are having school tomorrow.

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Lets see here...

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I was 5 years old in the blizzard of 78. My dad works in public contracting and was called out to plow. Though we lived in Newton, and about a 7-8 minute walk to the public school, my mom came to pick me up from kindergarten at noon because the school was closing early.

It took nearly 30 minutes to walk back home mostly uphill. I feel down twice and she fell down once. The wind was pushing hard against us, and it wasn't any sort of fun. I remember how worried our teacher was, because she was 8 months pregnant and had to drive back to Everett - you see, many teachers don't live where they teach.

As for this storm, don't blame the school, blame the forecast / weathermen. Anyone who has children knows full well that the schools get complaints if they DON'T cancel. Many of us now at least are able to work remotely so it isn't like it eats a vacation day in some cases. I know many folks still have that option.

Also, as a PS, during some of these winters, we didn't seem my dad almost for 20 hours, as he would be out plowing streets and parking lots and areas around schools. One year he was gone for 40 hours.

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Don't blame the forecast/weathermen

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...or even weatherwomen (aka meteorologists). Weather is extremely difficult to forecast. If you think you could do a better job, by all means, go for it.

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Perhaps if the weather people

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weren't so eager to inundate us (pardon the pun) with every scrap of information they pick up from the 80 gazillion or so "models" they reference, or weren't so inclined to give us outlandish snowfall ranges like "3 to 33 inches possible", then people might be more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt when they get it wrong.

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Swing and a miss on this one

I don't think BPS made the wrong call per the forecasts available when they decided but.... I am interested to know why they don't wait until later, like after 8pm to make the call. By 8pm, the weather forecasters were all dialing this one way, way back.

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Agreed

Interesting to read all the comments from yesterday given the non-storm we now have.

But yes, by even the 10pm news, it was apparent this storm would turn out to be a dud. They could have easily waited until later that night to make the cancel decision.

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They have to make a call on

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They have to make a call on opening snow day drop off care at an hour when it's possible for them to staff it. As it is, the call came unusually late for BPS - two hours after they usually call.

BPS has a tough choice in cases like this. If they make the call in time to prepare for all the things Boston does for snow days, they might wind up making it too early and having a pointless snow day. If they wait until snow is certain, they wind up with a crunch that puts kids in real danger and makes providing backup services impossible (parents can't find them and backup cares can't staff up to offer them). Inevitably, they get it wrong sometimes. Even the robocall mentioned erring on the side of caution this time.

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but...

Agreed, but I;m talking the difference between announcing a cancellation at 5pm vs 10pm - I'm not arguing they should have waiting until 4-5am to make the call on this one...

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I take kids to grandma

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If I know by evening that there is a snow day, I can usually get them off to their "sleep over" well ahead of the storm.

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Schools are catcing up

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Our town super told me that they had a lot of work to do to from the last ones, like fix wallboard and replace some short wiring and sockets from a roof leak.

They will be working on that today when the kids are out.

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Well

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At least the kids now have a free day to go out and play in the [looks outside]...street

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School

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BPS should've held off this morning to make the call. It's wet out downtown.

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Rare to wait til motning

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It’s rare to wait til morning for the reason mentioned above-they need to make back up plans for child care. Also need to decide the night before because of the kids who in a typical day leave the house by 5:45/6 for the commute to high school/middle school, but if there is bad weather during the commute must leave even earlier.
Tough call based on weather reports at the time, but even harder with 56,000 kids.

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Didn't read

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...any of the comments above explaining why that's not a valid option? Like, none of them at all?

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What is the worst that can

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What is the worst that can happen if children have to go to and from school in a couple of inches of snow? That it will take a little longer to get home? That parents will have to sit in crawling traffic? Or god forbid, drive a few miles on a snow-covered road, or worse, actually WALK in snow? It can be a good thing to deal with a little adversity. We all would be forced to collectively deal with mother nature while we go about our business. In the 70s an 80s I lived in Needham a snow day was rare, two a year maybe. Even the day of the 78 blizzard we went to school but were dismissed early. I don't remember the streets being littered with the dead bodies of children and their parents who dared venture out.

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Man, how quickly people forget

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At the time the mayor decided to close schools, the forecasters were still showing 4-8 inches in Boston with high winds. Had they known then what we know now, I'm sure Walsh would have made a different decision.

I'm not sure the Blizzard of '78 is a good comparison, unless you're really boasting how you went to school uphills both ways in a blizzard, with holes in your shoes, and kids today just have no guts, amirite, or something? Or maybe you've forgotten how several thousand people wound up trapped in the Garden?

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Adam raises another point

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We should be talking about why a 4-8" prediction warrants the cancelling of school in Boston in the first place. Maybe it's warranted given resource constraints or infrastructure constraints, but man, it does not say much for our preparedness to deal with a real emergency. The lack of resiliency and redundancy of resources across the board these days (both in the public and private sectors) troubles me a lot.

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Bad drivers, traffic lights, and snow shovelers....

For selfish reasons, I like when school is cancelled because there are so many less cars on the streets and I can get to work quicker (I am required by law to be at my job). If you have school in session, there are simply more cars, and than means bad drivers who aren't from here or don't have 4x4 make it much harder and longer to get to work.

Traffic lights seem to go out more now. In Dedham (Bridge St/Ames St.) those lights are out 2/3 cold storms, making it a 4 way stop. The 109/Spring St/DPW light goes out about 3 times a year. Add in your bad drivers and it makes it 100x worse.

Cities and Towns used to have probably 50-100 people shoveling all sorts of public areas. Now you have a fraction of the amount.

To Issac Gs point, keeping cars off the road helps every one else in an "emergency". My kids have online classrooms and access to teachers notes and instructions right online. Sometimes they can keep up with enough at home to hold them over for a day easily.

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Timing

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Timing of the storm counts. Still snowing horizontally out my window.

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4-8" might not warrant it,

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4-8" might not warrant it, but one set of forecasts was still at (an improbable) 8-12".

Personally, I think delayed opening would've been the way to go.

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Alarm

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They couldn't wake up at 4am like I did and look out the window?

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We hardly ever knew the night

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We hardly ever knew the night before. We would wake up early and listen to the radio, hoping they would include our town in the list of school closures.

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70s and 80s don't count

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The climate has changed substantially and we get a lot more snow and ice from warmer offshore waters (and the failure of the polar jet to contain the cold up there).

Note that the worst snow storms are mostly since the 1990s? Of course not. You are living in Nostalgiaville.

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Our secret: New Englander's have become soft

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Yes there are logistical reasons to call off school in advance. But there is also a responsibility to hold school when it's safe to do so. Calling it at 6:00pm the day before, when the forecast was as unclear as it was, shows that the administration (I think mainly Marty) is overly worried about blowback from parents. It's OK to say, "We need to wait until 10pm to have the information to make this decision." I guess they think that makes them look weak, but in my book, closing school for an inch of snow, when 90% of the schools around you are open, shows a real lack of leadership strength.

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Soft?

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Yeah, I'll just have June Cleaver go get the kids if the snow gets too bad.

Two parents working.
Mom isn't at home - she works 30 miles away
Bad experiences.
Kids being hit by cars
Kids stuck at school until midnight
Teachers can't afford or don't live in the neighborhood

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Yes, New Englanders are soft.

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Yes, New Englanders are soft. We drive school buses that don't fit down one way streets with parallel parking on both sides AND plow berms. We assign children to elementary schools that may or may not be anywhere near their homes, and run a school bussing system that has to get kids assigned to AWC in JP to school even if they live in South Boston. We dislike the thought of normal rush hour volume fishtailing down Pope's Hill towards the crosswalk between Stop & Shop and the Murphy School. We call school early because our situation is eight kinds of more complicated than the situation in Newton or Brookline or Somerville, and that's before I even start thinking about which main roads are prone to tidal flooding.

It is not Boston's job to lead those surrounding cities in more or less anything. We do the best we can with the circumstances that we actually have, and the fallible people that actually exist.

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Ok let's hear it

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from those who don't live in Bostonand want to criticize us.

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