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January 30, 2009

A Snow Day For This?

Icy sidewalk As a teacher I'm pretty used to having snow days (ie: days off from work in the wintertime). It's pretty standard in this area. An inch or so of snow and the schools shut down. But not this past Tuesday. It was a teacher workday and us teachers were sent in. I wasn't too happy. I couldn't believe we were being Forced To Go To Work While It Was Snowing.

On the drive in I had plenty of time to ponder my emotions. After all, my 20 minute drive became an hour long. Seeing all the other cars on the road made me realize how many people still go to work when there is snow. It's just the schools that shut down. But not the rest of the world. Stores are still open. Doctors are still open. Offices are still open. And my New England blood kicked in. This was nothing. Big deal. Suck it up and get to work.

There's a lot of Internet and media talk over President Obamas recent opinion on schools closing this week. He was quoted as saying,

"Can I make a comment that is unrelated to the economy very quickly?" the new president told reporters at a gathering with business leaders. "And it has to do with Washington. My children's school was canceled today. Because of, what? Some ice?....As my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never canceled," Obama said to laughter. "In fact, my 7-year-old pointed out that you'd go outside for recess. You wouldn't even stay indoors. So, I don't know. We're going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness."

But is it that easy to just apply some Chicago (or New England, or New York or whatever cold region) toughness? This area has it's unique challenges. On a nice and sunny day traffic is horrible. The counties do not have the manpower to treat and clear the streets as our neighbors in the north do. Which means, with a lack of sidewalks (or even in areas where there are sidewalks, but they do not get shoveled) kids are walking on ice, and waiting on ice for the bus. Sharing the ice with cars - moving machines that can hurt. Because it doesn't snow that often, children are not always prepared for the weather elements with snow pants and boots.

I grew up in New England. We'd go to school when it was snowing. We'd go to school after a foot of snow has fallen on the ground. Bus drivers would put chains on the buses. And like President Obama's daughter's, we'd have recess outdoors on those days too. You just knew to expect to go to school and wear your boots.

As I was dropping my son off at school today I was watching the other students struggle to get there. Most of the walkers were not wearing boots. They were slipping and sliding on the sidewalks. Because even the ones that had been shoveled had refroze into solid sheets of ice. Sidewalks that were 1 foot away from the road (which had also refroze) with unexperienced driving in the snow drivers. Maybe they are safer staying home and playing in the backyard? Or maybe DC needs to toughen up some.

This is an original post toDC Metro Moms Blog. When not pondering the pros and cons to snow days, Robin can be found blogging at MyLifeAsItIs.

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