In Baltimore, children were subjected to freezing classrooms for nearly three days after the city delayed shutting down schools amidst heating problems. Some classrooms reached around 40 degrees internally which prompted the Baltimore Teachers Union to formally address city officials in a letter.
“I implore that you close schools in the district until your facilites crew has had time to properly assess and fix the heating issues within the affected schools in Baltimore City,” wrote Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, to the school system’s CEO Sonja Santelises.
Calverton Elementary/Middle School, Elementary/Middle Alternative Program, KIPP Harmony Academy and Lakeland Elementary/Middle School were four school’s that city officials closed Wednesday (Jan. 3) and later that day dismissed students early from Frederick Douglass High School and Cecil Elementary School.
Baltimore is home to some of the states oldest infrastructures and extreme temperatures make new problems emerge quickly.“Too many of our buildings have outdated heating systems, poor insulation, and aging pipes as a result of years of inadequate funding for maintenance and facilities improvements,” said Santelises.
On Wednesday, the complaints because of the lack of heat in schools became political as it was realized the city of Baltimore requested state money for several heating and window replacements that were deemed low priority and went unfunded.
Frederick Douglass High School freshman Anaija Bishop described her school as freezing cold as she spent half of the school day Wednesday wrapped in a purple fleece blanket around her puffy coat.
During an interview with The Baltimore Sun, she said it was impossible to learn in those conditions and the day was essentially a waste. “The district needs to think about how cold we are and how sick we can get,” the 16-year-old said.