OPINION | Barry Richard: Schools in Session During Blizzard of 78
So, by now you realize that this is the 40th anniversary of the Blizzard of 78. It was the storm that all storms have been measured against ever since unless of course, you were not alive then. But, even if you'd hadn't yet been hatched in time for the "great blizzard," I'm sure you're familiar with the folklore.
I am not going to bore you with a lot of detail about my blizzard experiences. I'm sure you had or have heard worse. However, there is one take away from that experience that comes to mind everytime the weather heads south.
Whenever the forecast is for snow or the temperature dips to unreasonable depths there is a discussion about whether to cancel school. We've gotta protect the snowflakes from the, well, snowflakes, right? That wasn't so much of an issue before the Blizzard of 78.
A school was rarely canceled for snow, especially if the snow had yet to fall. That is until the week prior to "the big one."
A week before the snow storm to end all snowstorms forecasters were calling for a biggie. Schools in the area shuttered in advance of the storm, a rarity. This was a full-fledged milk and bread alert. Parents arranged their schedules in order to be home with the kids. And the snow never came. It rained instead. To say those parents were livid is an understatement.
The following week, the forecast was for Snowmageddon. Yeah, right. Where had we heard this before? Schools opened and stayed in session all day. By the time dismissal came later that day Mother Nature had unleashed a winter fury on the region, the likes of which many of us had never seen before.
Buses were trapped. Kids were stranded or very late getting home and as you can imagine, parents were livid.
A hundred people died as a result of the Blizzard of 78. I'm not sure if any of them were teachers or students making their way home from school. But, it is clear that the storm had some impact on how decisions are made today.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3 p.m. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.