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‘This Is Unacceptable.’ Baltimore Students Forced to Bundle Up in Frigid Classrooms

2 minute read

Baltimore schools were closed on Thursday as winter storm Grayson brought snow and ice to the city — a day after students sat through lessons inside frigid classrooms.

“This.Is.Unacceptable,” Aaron Maybin — a teacher at Baltimore’s Matthew A. Henson Elementary School and a former NFL linebacker — wrote in a tweet that went viral Wednesday. He shared a video of young students complaining about the cold temperatures while wearing winter coats in his classroom.

“It’s really ridiculous the kind of environment we place our children into and expect them to get an education,” Maybin wrote in another tweet on Wednesday. “I got two classes in one room, kids are freezing, Lights are off. No computers. We’re doing our best but our kids don’t deserve this.”

By Thursday afternoon, a GoFundMe page had raised more then $24,000 to buy space heaters and winter gear to keep students warm.

Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises faulted “unprecedented frigid temperatures” and old school buildings, explaining the conditions in a Facebook video on Wednesday. She said about 60 school buildings were impacted by cold temperatures and said the district was working to get heat operating across the district again.

“We don’t normally close just because it’s a cold day, but we also understand — and I hear people — It’s sustained cold, and nobody in this city, including me, wants folks sitting around in coats and mittens all day for the entire week,” she said.

The Baltimore Teachers Union on Wednesday urged Santelises to shut down all schools until the heating problems were resolved, but Santelises said it would be “overly simplistic” to close schools throughout the district for multiple days because not all were affected and because many students rely on school for meals.

“We are balancing the need for young people to connect to meals, the need for kids to connect with caring adults in safe spaces, as well as the fact that we want young people learning, and we don’t want lost learning time,” Santelises said. The district later announced that all schools would close on Thursday.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com