Parents welcome CPS’s decision to close for second day — but not its timing
BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter January 6, 2014 9:56PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens as Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett speaks at a news conference describing the city's response to the dangerous sub-zero cold snap. Photo by Fran Spielman.
Updated: February 8, 2014 6:34AM
Kelly Malle wasn’t going to send her kids to school Tuesday anyway, so she welcomed the decision by Chicago Public Schools to close for the second day in a row due to extremely cold weather.
“I live a block away from my school, there is no way I would send my kids out in this weather, said Malle, a Southeast Side resident.
Her feelings were echoed by hundreds of parents and others who posted comments on CPS’ Facebook site in response to closure announcements issued on Sunday and Monday.
While none of the comments were critical of the decision to close on Monday and Tuesday, many scolded school officials for taking so long to decide to close in the first place.
The first closing announcement was made Sunday evening after parents received automated calls the night before saying schools would remain open.
“It is an inconvenience that you’re telling us at the last minute because we have to find sitters,” said Malle. “I’m a single mom, luckily I have my parents close to me who can watch my children, but what about the other parents who don’t?”
But Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said Monday the initial decision was made after observing changes in the weather Sunday.
“It may have seemed at the last minute, but it wasn’t. We were being pro-active all along,” Byrd-Bennett said. “And the e-mails that I’ve received from parents — which have actually flooded [her inbox] — have all been, ‘Thanks.’”
That wasn’t good enough for Norwood Park resident Jason McSheridan.
“They knew this was coming,” he said. “It had been snowing four or five days straight and they’d been talking about this cold front for a week now.”
However McSheridan also said it was ultimately a good idea to keep the kids at home. “I’d rather them not have to go to school and deal with the elements.”
The last time Chicago schools were closed for two days in a row because of weather was during the Groundhog Day Blizzard in February, 2011. Before that, 1999 was the latest year to have any closures, a CPS spokesman said.
Catholic elementary schools in Cook and Lake counties will remain closed Tuesday and re-open on Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools announced Monday.
If any individual Catholic elementary schools decide to hold classes on Tuesday, that school’s “administrators will inform their school community directly about this decision,” the archdiocese said. Each Catholic high school will make its own decision.
More information on Catholic schools can be found at twww.emergencyclosingcenter.com.
Contributing: Fran Spielman