Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Culture of Safety

The snow covered playground at Madison Square Park in New York City.

It is not exactly a newsflash to report that it has been one hell of a winter.

We've been bombarded by so much snow that even the little kid in me is screaming, "Enough!"

More importantly, the adult that I am is left scratching my head wondering at the Mayor's decision (past and present) to keep NYC public schools open when everyone around us closes due to inclement weather.

Former Mayor Bloomberg rationalized keeping schools open because parents need to work.  He seemed to publicly contemplate, "Who will watch the children on such short notice?"

Current Mayor Bill De Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina posited that schools must stay open because otherwise children wouldn't have a hot meal.

There was some lip service paid to keeping children safe but they ultimately decided that safety was a parental prerogative.

On Wednesday night, before the last big storm hit, I attended choir practice where the weather was the central topic of conversation. Local schools in Trenton were already closed in anticipation of the onslaught. We talked about the fact that NYC public schools rarely close.  Our organist--an amazingly talented young woman who works as a nurse--was outraged by this because she has witnessed firsthand the consequences the lack of precaution has wrought.

She argued that we must foster a "culture of safety" instead of applauding individuals who brave the storm to get to work.  I thought of the postings in my school thanking everyone who fought the elements to come in during the blizzard.

Then she told the heartbreaking story of cardiothoracic surgeon who was one of the "heroes" until he slipped on the ice and suffered brain damage as a result.  He was never able to practice again and now spends his days in and out of a lucidity.

I couldn't get to work the next day due to the fact that I live about two hours away and commuting was out of the question.

When I returned on Friday I heard that a school bus carrying children to our school was in an accident.  The bus hit a guard rail because the roads were covered in ice and the driver couldn't stop the bus from skidding.

One little girl slammed her head into the seat in front of her causing her glasses to push into her face.  Her sister told me she is okay but her eyes are bothering her now and she has "marks" on her nose.

The news was filled with similar stories.

We always tell the children that our main priority is to keep them safe.

Is it?

Sometimes I question the decisions of those in charge and hope that they see schools as more than a babysitting service with a meal plan.

1 comment:

37paddington said...

Yeah, I think the mayor made the wrong call on this one. I'd have kept my kids home regardless. I hope the little girl in your class is all better. How scary!


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