In a pre-emptive strike last night, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said that city schools will be open today despite the brutal storm that could bring 8-12 inches to New York.
“Due to anticipated inclement weather conditions, all school field trips will be cancelled tomorrow. Schools will be open,” Farina said.
This has led to some predictable grumbling and even outrage, but New York City has a history of actively trying to avoid closing schools. ABC 7 asked Farina today for more clarification on the decision to keep schools open. A big part of the decision, she said, comes down to the fact that if schools are closed, many children don’t eat.
“If people can go to work, then kids can to school,” she said. “Many of our kids don’t get a hot lunch and, in many cases breakfast, unless they go to school. So it’s still a parent’s decision whether they send their kids to school or not. My decision is where the kids are safest and the most taken care of, and the answer to that is in schools.”
She emphasized that parents should make their own decisions on whether they wanted to send their children to school.
“Parents, as always, should exercise their own judgment with regard to their children. Safety is a top priority for the Department,” Farina said.
There has been one snow day during the short administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio. That came on Jan. 3, when snow combined with frigid temperatures in the first “polar vortex” of the year.
The de Blasio administration was criticized for not canceling school on other days, including the Jan. 22 storm that brought about one foot of snow to New York.
According to Gothamist, there have been just six city school closings due to snow over the past 13 years—a March blizzard in 2001, a January 2004 snowstorm, a March 2009 snow storm, two February 2010 storms, and a January 2011 storm.
New York City schools closed for five days in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. But that storm crippled the city’s subway system. That’s not the case in snowstorms, when the city’s subway and bus systems typically run rather smoothly or with slight delays.
See also: Washington, DC Has a Full-Blown Snow Day