Baltimore Public Schools decided to suspend classes on Thursday (Jan. 4), after receiving widespread criticism for forcing their students to attend class in dangerous conditions the day prior, CNN reports.
On Wednesday (Jan. 3), outrage was hurled at the Maryland city’s school system as photos surfaced online of students in classrooms layered in their coats, gloves, and scarves. Not only did this anger the children’s parents, but also generated frustration from teachers as well.
The president of the Baltimore Teacher’s Union, Marietta English, used a hand-delivered letter to “implore” that the school system’s CEO, Sonja Santelises, to cancel classes, while former-NFL linebacker turned teacher, Aaron Maybin, took to social media posting tweets and pictures that critique the way the school system was handling the low temperatures.
However, in a video on Facebook live, Santelises responded to this criticism by explaining the strain on many of the district’s “outdated” and “poor” heating systems is a result of inadequate funding. But even though close to a third of the schools in the district have reported heating issues – with close to 85 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced lunch – shutting down the district is not an easy decision since many children rely on school for meals.
And although Santelises has suspended classes for the week, the state of the city’s school district may be indicative of Baltimore as a whole. With close to a fourth of their citizens below the poverty line and one of the highest murder rates in the country, one can see that the struggles of this city that is nearly 65 percent black, go past poorly insulated schools.