Was it the Right Call to Close Newton Schools Monday?

Many parents and teachers took to social media Sunday night to express their opinions about Monday's school cancellation in Newton.

After the Friday-Saturday blizzard dumped nearly two feet of snow on Newton, . 

Once the announcement was made, several parents and teachers took to social media to express their opinions on the decision to cancel school. Here's a sampling of what we saw:

@ctanowitz: Wish #Newton schools would give a reason for closing schools in the phone message. Parents aren't happy. Cc: @14thVillage @NewtonMAPatch

@Mr_Martenis: @ctanowitz @NewtonMAPatch #Newton Teachers are frustrated as well.

@dlluce: @Mr_Martenis @ctanowitz @newtonmapatch how about the safety of the children comes first. I think that's the best reason EVER.

@traxbrah: #Newton students are happy @NewtonMAPatch

@MacBlythe: @ctanowitz @14thVillage @NewtonMAPatch Agree... not happy.

According to school officials, the decision to cancel was made due to concerns about narrow roadways and dangers to pedestrians. The city has several instances of "non-continuous sidewalks" that have snow mounds on the corners, forcing pedestrians to walk into the streets at intersections, officials said. 

Not having school Monday will allow the DPW time to get those safety concerns rectified, officials said.

Newton DPW Commissioner Dave Turocy told Newton Patch Sunday evening that crews were out all day Sunday clearing roads, sidewalks, school parking lots and crosswalks. DPW workers were set to resume snow removal Monday morning. 

Newton Public Schools were also closed Friday, Feb. 8.

What do you think? Did Newton school officials make the right call to cancel school Monday? Share your thoughts/opinions in the comments section below. 

yvonne brooks February 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM
yvonne brooks February 11, 2013 at 12:50 PM
I am considering the safety of those children who walk to school.
teresa February 11, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Absolutely yes! Take a look at how narrow the streets are nevertheless the high snow piles, and picture a child trying to manipulate these hurdles. I laughed at one comment from a parent wanting to know why schools were cancelled? Take a walk around and than ask that question!
Judy k February 11, 2013 at 01:10 PM
Absolutely yes. I would much rather have the children be at home safe rather than risking an unnecessary accident. I agree with the decision to close Monday.
Heather February 11, 2013 at 01:47 PM
It was the right decision. There is a lot more snow to be cleared around the schools before they can be declared safe. Newton has fourteen elementary school buildings, the majority of which are located in neighborhoods with narrow streets and very little parking. Drop off and pick up becomes a logistical nightmare. Students who walk would be forced on to the streets. The area surrounding the high school is a whole other story. Even without a major snow dump, navigating the traffic is an exercise in restraint.
Elia February 11, 2013 at 02:02 PM
I think a lot of Newton resident have to rethink - before they question WHY there is no school today!! It was scary as an adult trying to walk to church on Sunday morning.. I can just imagine what it would had been for students today walking to school - so please instead of questioning " WHY" - please just make sure your SIDEWALKS are clear of snow for tomorrow!! Thanks = )
John Ryan February 11, 2013 at 03:06 PM
The Boys & Girls Club of Newton is open from 9am to 6pm today. Annual memberships for kids ages 6 to 18 is just $125. Signup for our eNewsletter to get more info or just stop in! www.newtonBGC.com We feel that it is important for parents who need to work to have a safe, reliable place to bring their children. The timing of this particular storm and the advance notice of the closing have put the Club in a position to help.
nancy February 11, 2013 at 03:07 PM
I am confused by the argument that it is the poor sidewalk condition. Are we really expecting residents who have not yet shoveled to do so now? In my experience, some do and some don't. Another day is not going to convince the nonshovelers to shovel. School should have been open - parents can drive one day for goodness sake.
Wendy Schapiro February 11, 2013 at 03:33 PM
I just drove my son to Needham High School and I had to slow and even stop several times between Needham Street and our destination because *adults* were walking in the street due to un-shoveled sidewalks. Small people would be even less visible, so I absolutely think the right call was made. And even though it would have meant another day indoors with a cranky teenager, I wish Needham had made the same sensible call.
Demie Stathoplos February 11, 2013 at 03:35 PM
I drove by Bigelow middle school, and the roads around there are still a mess. I know it is frustrating to deal with so many snow days, but the reality is that too many people are not able to get around, and the buses would just be a mess. I agree with the decision to close the schools today, as frustrating as it is.
Smgm February 11, 2013 at 03:43 PM
I agree but will it be any better any day this week? Parents have to decide if they can get there kids to school safely or keep them home.
Stephanie February 11, 2013 at 04:02 PM
So now the kids are sledding, parents are driving. People will take their kids to the local business. How is this safer than kids being IN school? If we can travel around then school should be in session. Pick up and drop off will be a nightmare until the snow melts.
Adam Maleson February 11, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Homeschool your kids. THE SAFEST solution 365 days of the year. PLUS no override nonsense- no need for school buildings at all! And best of all, no bullying from other kids and teachers. I ain't kddin you, neither.
KL February 11, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Newton definitely made the correct call. Had school not been cancelled and a child got hit by a car because he or she was forced to walk in the street, the same people would be complaining that Newton didn't make a good decision.
Smgm February 11, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Kids will be walking in the street the rest of the week
DJ February 11, 2013 at 07:13 PM
It's great that the safety of kids are being put first. Not sure what % of Newton kids walk/bike/bus to school, but I'm sure it's significant enough to justify the decision without questioning the parenting of folks who can't or don't normally drop off/pick up their kids (which becomes a safety issue itself, and an aggravation to folks who live near schools more so than usual). What happens to folks who refuse to shovel in a timely manner? If they're fined, does that mean the city clears their walk ASAP? If not, why not? What's the fine for? If you don't move your car, it's towed AND you're fined. So how does it work with snow preventing safe passage for folks? Also, who is responsible for ensuring safe access to bus stops for the kids?
Alex Khitrik February 11, 2013 at 07:44 PM
I think Newton has done a very poor job of clearing streets. It's like sending a plow down the street once is enough... when that results in extremely narrow streets. The street up to Hebrew College and Andover Newton (Herrick Road) is a good example, as are all the surrounding streets in Newton Center. I live on the line in Watertown and the same streets on the Watertown side of the neighborhood are immensely better cleared. There's generally enough pavement for two cars to pass! Plows came down the streets frequently on Saturday, and you'd see them in the following days as well. I'm seriously SHOCKED at how crappy a job Newton is doing by comparison.
ck February 12, 2013 at 01:35 AM
Last night I left an online request for Newton to report that there is no way for the tons of kids leaving Bigelow to cross the 4 way intersection and walk down Vernon Street towards Underwood. Got an email that it was resolved. Drove by - still not done. I called City Hall and they said they would re-open case. Saw city workers in front of Bigelow this afternoon, but they very politely told me they are from Parks and Recs and they are just making sure the school properly is taken care of. Across the intersection is DPW responsibility. As of tonight - still a problem. Closing schools for a day - doesn't seem to make a difference. I hope it does in other areas of the city and near the schools, but for this family, we'll just add another car to the already busy narrow streets. How do other towns do it - are they outsourcing or at least consolidating services?
Mark Golden February 12, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Without a doubt, keeping the schools closed was the correct decision. The sidewalks that were shoveled were few and far between. Corners were blocked by 5"-6" piles of snow. School lots were not fully cleared, roads where many pedestrians, of all ages were narrow and dangerous. So, the city decided to cancel classes. This is certainly a time for Big Brother (no, I am not referring to late Newton resident Bob Emery), to take action. Today I was in Newton, Brookline, Watertown and Boston.(via the T). No area was ready to have children return to school. Lack of snow clearing by homeowners and businesses was rampant. In Coolidge Corner sidewalks were in horrible condition. I walked by the building that used to contain a store I had owned and was appalled. Cities and towns that have a clear walk ordinance MUST enforce it. These walks should have been done Sunday.
peter February 12, 2013 at 12:49 PM
The kids missed two days school fine but do you all really feel the kids should miss four days of school for a storm like this as there was several days of warning
ck February 12, 2013 at 02:17 PM
It's sad that the school principal had to be outside shoveling this morning. I don't think the question should be was it the right decision to closel school, I think the question is Does the city handle snow removal properly? Fix the underlying problem. Until the snow melts, it's not going to be safe. Close 1 day, 2 days, whatever, it's not going to make a difference if the issues aren't resolved to make it safer.
Melanie Graham (Editor) February 12, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Hi ck -- That was precisely our question to readers earlier this morning! Feel free to comment here: "How Would You Grade Newton's Plowing During the Blizzard of 2013" : http://patch.com/A-1Q9h
DJ February 12, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Yes, yes and yes to everything you said. Drove my kid to NNHS today and was appalled at houses ON WALNUT STREET who hadn't shoveled their walks, and watching kids just climb snow banks to get to school, fighting alongside cars attempting to park and regular busy morning traffic. Checked out her .5 mile walk from the bus stop (which she normally takes) to our house, and again big stretches of unshoveled walks, narrow roads, completely blocked street corners and such. This is New England, is it not, haven't they figured it out by now? Maybe have extra city workers out patrolling like they would parking spots, fining folks with uncleared walks every day if necessary until they're safe and clear for our residents and our kids.


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