- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2003

District public schools opened yesterday while other area schools remained closed to allow crews to clear highways, subdivisions and side streets after a three-day snowstorm dumped between a foot and 2 feet of snow across the region.
The snowstorm paralyzed the metropolitan area for close to a week, keeping the District's 67,522 students homebound through Thursday. Yesterday they tiptoed along slippery sidewalks, walked in the streets and clilmbed mounds of frozen, dirty snow to get to and from classes.
A steady flow of chatty, rambunctious children pushed their way through the red double doors at Raymond Elementary School at 915 Spring Road NW. The sidewalks leading directly to the school had been cleared of snow and ice, but side streets in the Ward 4 neighborhood were riddled with snowbanks and adjacent sidewalks and curbs were covered with snow and icy patches.
Timothy Williams, the principal at Raymond since 1969, said he didn't expect the entire student body of 474 to attend school yesterday. After rolls had been taken, the principal said 176 students had come to school and only seven of the 26 classroom teachers didn't show up.
Mr. Williams said he's committed to educating children. "I've got a job to do and I'm going to do the job," he said.
But he worried about the children's safety en route to school and whether the condition of the school's parking lot would leave enough spaces for teachers and staff to park. His fears were put to rest early yesterday morning after he personally surveyed the parking lot.
"Most sidewalks other than [those] around the school have not been cleared," he said.
"The custodians are doing a good job they've been diligent, but there's still a lot of snow, " Mr. Williams said.
At Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights in Northwest, teachers and students got back to the business of learning without missing a beat.
Sadia White, the principal at Tubman, said "Our philosophy is the harder you work the more successful you become."
Miss White said 75 percent of her teachers showed up yesterday and 230 of the school's 630 students attended classes.
Some parents decided not to send their children to school because of the lingering snow.
"I kept my child at home. … Our schools are located in neighborhoods and most of the [sidewalks] have not been shoveled," said Iris Toyer, parent of a youngster who attends Stanton Elementary at 2701 Naylor Road SE.
Ms. Toyer said a great many of the children who attend Stanton have to cross a major thoroughfare to get to school. There's also a large field children walk across to get to the school grounds, but it was piled with snow.
"The children will either end up soaking wet, if they walk across the field, or they will have to walk in the streets to get to school. Had the custodians started shoveling snow on Monday there's still no place for teachers to park and there's no place for children to walk safely," she said.
"While traffic is moving and [Mayor] Anthony Williams did a reasonable job with snow removal, the sidewalks are not cleared. I didn't think it was safe for children to be taking their lives into their own hands," Ms. Toyer said.
District schools opened two hours late yesterday and administrative offices were open. Ms. Toyer and other parents also questioned the reasoning behind Superintendent Paul L. Vance's decision to open school for one day for four hours.
Public schools in Prince George's, Fairfax and Montgomery counties and many other jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia decided earlier in the week to remain closed to allow snow-removal crews to clear side streets, roads and highways, citing the safety of children as their top priority.


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