When the city faced its second major snow storm in three weeks, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had several decisions to make.
He declared a weather emergency, which was helpful in getting vehicles off the street so plows could get through. He also decided to keep public schools open, offering relief to parents who had to go to work but a dilemma to those adults who were snowed in themselves: If you keep the children at home, you risk a blemished attendance record and missed school work, not to mention braving the snowy roads.
On the other hand, if you send the children to school, they might end up spending the whole day watching movies because the school does not have enough teachers present to cover all the classes. What’s a parent in that situation to do?
Here’s my solution: When a storm is not severe enough to close the schools but is serious enough that the city asks people to avoid unnecessary travel, why not announce a modified school opening, a semi-snow day?
Here is what it would look like: The schools open for those parents who are going to work and need to send their children someplace safe; the teachers who can make it to school are there, as they were this time.
On the other hand, those parents who do not have to go out can keep their children at home. Students are not marked absent and teachers do not cover new material in class; if the principal decides to put everyone in the auditorium and turn on the cartoons, no one minds.
There are fewer drivers on the roads, fewer students who feel that they are wasting their time in school, and a lot of families who can enjoy a snow day together. I think it’s worth a try.
Councilman Mark. S. Weprin