De Blasio Defends Open Schools After Snow Storm, Praises Response

January 22, 2014 1:43 pm Last Updated: January 22, 2014 4:43 pm

NEW YORK—On the night of Jan. 21, a blizzard swept in more than a foot of snow on the streets of New York City, with strong winds pushing the temperatures below zero. Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio decided that the schools will remain open.

At 10 p.m. the weather forecast showed the storm was fading and de Blasio was confident the Sanitation Department would clean up the streets overnight so both public transport and school buses would work.

“It was the right decision,” he said during a press conference in Brooklyn Wednesday. He pointed out that the city is obliged by law to open schools if safe and good attendance can be achieved. Nevertheless, he said, the decision cost him a mouthful of complaints from his son.

Preliminary Department of Education data showed 47.1 percent attendance on Jan. 22, compared to about 90 percent average.

As for health concerns, de Blasio said the transportation didn’t work perfectly, but well enough so children didn’t have to wait too long for their buses and trains in the cold.

After-schools programs are running as well.

City Workers Pulled All-Nighter

According to de Blasio, about 2,500 city workers from departments of sanitation, transportation and others worked through the night and, as a result, more than 90 percent of the streets are swept and salted.

He praised them for a quick response.

He maintained all the boroughs were served evenly, though Manhattan was prioritized in the evening to counter the heaviest snow during the rush hour.

As of the morning of Jan. 22, trains are working “close to normal” and buses are at 80 to 90 percent. Ferries are running as well.

There will be no trash pickup until the snow is cleaned out. A specific time was not announced.