Baltimore students and teachers returned to school from holiday break on Tuesday, expecting to start the new year with a bang, but that proved an overly optimistic assumption for a collapsing school system, as the classrooms they found were flooded, and indoor temperatures barely above freezing.
Starting off on the wrong foot, Baltimore’s school system could be on track for a turbulent year, in conjunction with a widespread cheating scandal.
The recent cold snap in Maryland has sent temperatures across the state plunging: on Wednesday morning, Baltimore printed at 11 degrees.
On Tuesday, the cold weather paralyzed the school system across the city, however, schools remained open despite the horrific conditions.
“It was miserable. The kids had their coats, hats, and gloves on all day,” said Jesse Schneiderman, a social, studies teacher at Frederick Douglass High School.
One classroom at Frederick Douglass was completely destroyed, after flooding from a burst pipe rendered the classroom unsafe.
“A teacher in our basement, because her room is under the flooded classroom, lost all of her materials,” he said. “Other teachers had to teach in the library because their classrooms were too cold.”
Schneiderman added, “we were shocked we weren’t one of the schools sent home.” He also said water damage destroyed the wrestling room, the weight room, and the JROTC room.
Baltimore Brew notes that temperatures were barely above freezing inside the classrooms,
THE HIGHEST IT GOT HERE WAS 40 DEGREES – FROM 7 A.M. UNTIL 2:40 PM WHEN SCHOOL DISMISSED, IT NEVER WARMED UP.
Four schools closed on Tuesday for weather-related issues, but social media indicates cold conditions in schools were widespread.
Social media was flooded with angry parents and teachers voicing their concern for a deteriorating schools system. Baltimore Brew reports classrooms at “Patterson High School, City College and Calverton Elementary School” also experienced no heat.
Announcement just now in a public elementary school in a major American city in 2018: Teachers – please ensure students wear sweaters, coats, hats to the cafeteria due to the extremely cold temperatures… #Baltimore #fail #HappyNewYear2018
— David Landymore (@DaveLandymore) January 2, 2018
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.
This has been a problem since I was in school. BCPS, wake up! Our students are not prisoners, they’re GOLD.
— ???? K.T.???? (@QueenKoreyJ) January 3, 2018
At city neighbors high school it is really cold in the school the heat hasn’t been working and it’s not right how we still have to go to school. I think y’all need to close schools this is just sad. Baltimore city is making there self’s look so bad it’s sad and nasty
— Sexyymarr (@sexyymarr) January 3, 2018
Jeffrey San Filippo, a seventh and eighth-grade history teacher at Calverton Elementary/Middle School, lashed out Baltimore City Schools and alerted the local media after his classroom only made it to a high of 40 degrees. San Filippo was shocked when he found out the city opened so many unheated schools, meanwhile they reassured everyone on social media everything was fine.
— Jeffrey San Filippo (@JeffSanFilippo) January 2, 2018
On Wednesday, it was day two with no heat and the social media outbursts continue…
my six year old niece had to sit in school with her coat and hat on, all day. no heat.
parents found out there was no heat, when they got a phone call about cancelled after-school activities…due to no heat.
baltimore is a fucking wasteland.
— Nah Champa (@hatzigsut) January 3, 2018
Baltimore City makes me sick. They got these babies in full coats and gloves in CLASS? Some of these kids go to school to GET warm (and I don’t wanna hear how BGE ain’t supposed to cut off heat. “Supposed to” means nothing)
— niggx. (@pcketrcket) January 3, 2018
I don’t understand how Baltimore City schools can operate on any level, with no heat. The temperature is in the teens. What the hell is going on?
— Asia (@AsiaChloeBrown) January 3, 2018
They’re in school in this condition? Wow this is ridiculous RT @autumnsays_: Day 2 of no heat at my job. Baltimore City clearly doesn’t care about the learning conditions of Black children.
— #RestWellMikeBrown (@Drea_TheCreole) January 3, 2018
We had heat in the morning but it quickly went to blowing cold air. We are not in Baltimore but are in a well-respected one about 30 miles away. We stayed all day as well. It sucks all around and NO child should have to endure this at school. (Name covered to protect kiddo.) pic.twitter.com/1yJD4CH4Q5
— Melissa Bickley (@TeachOrSwim) January 3, 2018
Kids in Baltimore are sitting in classes with no heat; full coat, jackets and hats. This is disgusting
— Talia Caldwell (@ESOTERICTalia) January 3, 2018
Baltimore Brew reports city officials are “feverishly” working to prevent a further collapse in the school system:
Reached at City Schools headquarters in North Avenue, spokeswoman Edie House-Foster said school officials are doing their best with aging facilities.
“We have some of the oldest buildings in the state of Maryland,” House-Foster said. “Trying to maintain heat with the extreme temperatures and wind chills we’ve been having is extremely difficult.”
“Our facilities teams have been working feverishly to address the problems,” she said.
House-Foster said officials try to keep schools open where possible to make sure students can receive needed services like free and reduced price meals. She said she was only aware of weather-related problems at four schools:
Woodlhome Elementary/Middle School, the Elementary/Middle Alternative Program and Frederick Elementary either closed or dismissed early, she said.
Lakeland Elementary/Middle released students at 12:45 p.m. because of heating system issues.
Councilman Zeke Cohen said he recognizes the school system’s challenges, but “the school system needs to do a better job of protecting kids.”
“It is not acceptable for children to be learning in freezing temperatures,” he said. “Understanding we’re going to be in extremely cold temperatures, they’ve got to make sure schools are prepared.”
Cohen said he heard today from parents and teachers across his Southeast Baltimore district, concerned about freezing classrooms.
On social media, Baltimore City Schools updated the community on more closures indicating the problem is more widespread than initially thought:
As we reported last night, there is more bad news for the East Coast. A “Bomb Cyclone” is set to detonate off the coast producing wicked winter weather, but what is following the storm could be even more devastating for the region.”The whole troposphere is coming south and we will not avoid an intense cold snap lasting several days,” said StormHamster.com.
With a freezing storm expected to plow onto into the East Coast through the weekend, we wonder if Baltimore City Schools can survive further cold?