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Menino Defends Boston Schools’ Decision To Stay Open Despite Snow

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BOSTON (CBS) – In spite of Friday’s snow storm, Boston Public Schools chose to remain open without any official delay.

As the morning went on, there were reports of increasing school bus route delays, leaving some kids standing out in the snow and a number of parents upset with the city’s decision.

Lee McGuire, spokesperson for Boston Public Schools acknowledged the delays, but defended the school department’s decision to stay open.

“It’s been definitely slow going this morning but the city has done a great job keeping the major roads clear. We worked overnight to make sure all of our schools are clear as well. The sidewalks, the driveways, the paths to the school are pretty good this morning,” McGuire said.

McGuire emphasized that all 700 of the school department’s buses were out on the roads and that every student would be picked up.

Mayor Menino also defended the decision to keep schools open. He says delays were inevitable, but the city made sure there were extra plows and sanders on bus routes.

“It’s difficult to call school off the same morning of the start of school because you have a lot of childcare issues to deal with for working parents,” Menino said. “Yes there will be criticism about what we did, but overall I think we made the right decision.”

The school department set up a transportation hotline so parents could find out where their child’s bus was and when it was expected to arrive.

“It is slower. And we appreciate parents understanding,” McGuire said. “We imagine a lot of parents could make the decision to keep their children home, which of course is up to them.”

As the storm continued into the afternoon, Boston Public Schools sent out a robo-call saying that any absences would be forgiven, and children would be marked ‘constructively present’ rather than absent.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

“We know many families made their own decision as to whether to keep their children home and we want to honor those choices, which is why we will not mark these students as absent,” a statement from Superintendent Johnson said. “In addition, we continue to monitor the forecast which indicates the afternoon commute may be more difficult than originally predicted. This is why we are going to cancel afternoon and evening activities. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this unusual storm.”

Students who did show up to school on Friday were not happy that the absences would be excused. “That is not fair at all!” one Charlestown High student told WBZ’s Bernice Corpuz.

“I think it’s totally not fair,” said another student. “I live all the way in Roxbury and I have to troop it all the way to Charlestown.”

The students said about half of their classmates were missing on Friday.

The school department also announced all after-school activities had been canceled, including sporting events.

The city says it’s looking at conditions for Friday afternoon, and is diverting plows to areas that are getting more snow than others. The main goal for Friday afternoon, Mayor Menino says, is to make sure kids receive a safe ride home.

When asked why the school decided against a two-hour delay, McGuire said that given the size of the school district, the logistics of a delay are nearly impossible.

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