On Monday, after a historic blizzard buried New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña did the right thing. For most families, it was business as usual.
Teachers are ultimately public servants, so it's their duty to do what's best for the youth population they serve. During the blizzard, the Department of Sanitation, and Fire and Police departments were still patrolling the streets, cleaning up (in most cases!) and ensuring the safety of all New Yorkers. The role of teachers on Monday was no different.
School is simply the safest place for some students to be, no matter what's happening in the outside world. It's a place where all of New York's children – especially those being shuffled in and out of temporary housing situations – can warm up and enjoy a hot a meal.
The onus should be on the parents to decide what they should do with their children, but just because you don't feel like shoveling out your car, doesn't mean that a family down the block that relies on that safe haven for their kid – while both parents go to work – should be forced to leave their child at home.
Clearly there were parts of New York City, especially Queens, where snow removal was less than adequate. That's why the city should have not have marked any child that missed the school day as absent. The best compromise would be to leave it up to the parents.
If a parent is fortunate enough to be able to stay home with their child, that's their decision. The school should allow parents to send a note the next day or place a call that forgives the absence.
School is too important a place for the city's youth to just close its doors for a day because of an inconvenience.