J'lem schools fail to make grade in snowstorm

Parents committee chairwoman: Buildings weren't heated public transportation wasn't fully operating.

snow Sacher Park 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
snow Sacher Park 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The children of Jerusalem woke up Tuesday morning to a blanket of snow that covered the higher parts of the city. Even though the Jerusalem Municipality announced that schools would open at 9 a.m., most of the capital's educational institutions remained closed after parents committee chairwoman Etti Binyamin called on parents to keep their children home. "The municipality decided to open schools at 9 a.m. without consulting us, the parents, but we recommended that parents not send their children [to school] out of concern for their safety," Binyamin told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "The schoolyards and the sidewalks were full of snow, and the buildings weren't heated since the custodians arrived as late as the children. By 9 a.m., the main roads were open, but public transportation wasn't fully operating. Many of the routes to schools hadn't been cleared, so children and teachers couldn't get there," Binyamin explained. According to Binyamin, only several dozen children were in school Tuesday. In many cases, she said, children arrived to find their schools closed. "I called the municipality early in the morning and asked them not to send special education students to school. I received dozens of phone calls from kindergarten teachers who told me they couldn't open the schools," she said. Binyamin said that the municipality shouldn't have announced that schools would be open as usual, even if its intention was to help parents who needed to go to work. The Jerusalem Municipality said in response that the local parents committee and the national parents committee had disagreed as to the need to keep the city's children home. The municipality said it decided to announce school as usual following a thorough examination of conditions by the Jerusalem District Police and Egged. "The decision allowed parents to go work, unlike the last time it snowed, when most parents stayed home with their children," the statement read. While many of the capital's children enjoyed an unexpected day off, Jerusalem manufacturers reported full operation on Tuesday, with 70-90 percent of workers arriving as usual. The last time it snowed in Jerusalem, in late January, 70% of employees could not come to work, causing the loss of an estimated NIS 50 million. Classes in many Gush Etzion communities were also cancelled Tuesday. In Beit Hagai, Ma'aleh Hever and Kiryat Arba many roads were closed due to the snow. On the Golan Heights, the Mount Hermon ski resort was also closed to visitors due to the storm.