A City College teacher's classroom thermometer read 52 degrees Friday.

A City College teacher's classroom thermometer read 52 degrees Friday. (Epiphany in Baltimore / January 24, 2014)

The second bout of snow and freezing temperatures gave Baltimore city schools a five-day weekend (including the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday) but many said their buildings were not prepared to welcome them back.

Several emails were sent to Interim CEO Tisha Edwards about the freezing temperatures in classrooms and other weather-related concerns.

A teacher who blogs under the name "Epiphany in Baltimore" posted an email he sent to Edwards earlier this week about his classroom being 52 degrees at City College High School. You can read his post, here.

In the email, the educator writes about he and his students try different strategies to bear the cold.

"At some point, however, I worry that my adjustments create a culture of complacency and acceptance of the conditions, though, and I am having an especially difficult time tolerating the frigid air the last two days," the email said. "Our students deserve more, so, at the very least, I’m going to send this e-mail to document that there has been no heat all winter in my classroom and several others at our school, and this is negatively affecting several aspects of safety, comfort, and learning at the school."

A Patterson High School teacher whose class wrote to Edwards last week said that pipes continued to burst this week, and temperature in her classroom reached 42 degrees. She said that despite her custodians' best efforts, it was hard to teach and she worried about her students' ability to concentrate during testing next week. 

"My students will be taking their state mandated WIDA exams next week," she wrote to Edwards. "I pray that we'll have heat by then. Point of note, my classroom has not been warm since Christmas.  Please help!"

Carlamarie Fernandez, a student at Digital Harbor High School, said she wrote Edwards about the ice that blanketed the entrance to the school.

"I just want to ensure safety for me and other students that had to walk on the street because the sidewalk was not clean and the way students are supposed to walk, known as "Digital Way," was covered of ice all the way to the entrance," she wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun.

In a statement, city school officials said that the safety and well-being "is always the top priority of City Schools" and the decision to keep schools open in bad weather is never made lightly.

"This week, we have experienced unusually low temperatures that have taxed the heating systems of many of our buildings and, in the process, have underscored the difficulty of maintaining the state’s oldest school building portfolio and the tremendous need for the district’s 21st-century buildings initiative," the statement said.

"All week we have been on site at our schools to ensure the safety of school grounds and to address heat concerns. We will continue to do regular heat checks throughout the weekend; our crews are constantly checking grounds and heating systems to ensure we are ready for school next week."

erica.green@baltsun.com

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