For two full weekdays and two hours of a third day, Attleboro's public schools were closed as city workers and contractors removed snow on district property and the city's sidewalks in the aftermath of last week's blizzard. For many people, this was frustrating, and they expressed that frustration in emails to School Committee Chair Mike Tyler and by criticizing the recovery effort through various means, including on the comments section of Attleboro Patch and its Facebook page.
Tyler, who had to work on the recovery effort in Rehoboth where he is the highway superintendent, gave advice to the critics during the closing minutes of the school committee meeting Wednesday: "Calm down a little bit."
The school committee chair said he received several email from people that were "so off-base." He said people should wait for a period before they "push that send button." Tyler also did not like comments stated in public about the work.
"There area a lot of people doing a lot of hard work, doing the best they can," Tyler said. "And to see their department or names thrown out there in the public of doing an inadequate job is such an injustice for the work and the time that they put in."
He added, "They deserve our blessings as a school committee and as a community at large ... People really need to take a deep breath sometimes. I realize that a lot of people are stressed out, but to take that stress and put it on somebody else is just unjustified."
Schools closed Friday as the community braced for the storm. After more than two feet of snow dropped on the city from Friday through Saturday afternoon, schools continued to be closed Monday and Tuesday. They were reopened Wednesday, two hours after the regular start time.
Mayor Kevin Dumas wrote in a message on the city's website Monday that the closure for Tuesday was because it would be dangerous for children to walk to school.
"It has been declared a public safety issue for students to walk to school due to the large amount of snow at intersections," he wrote. "The city will continue to perform the required work to clear sidewalks and lower snow piles appropriately. Our students' safety is paramount and should be everyone's priority."
School district Superintendent Pia Durkin said at the meeting Wednesday there was a "smooth opening" of the schools earlier that day. She praised district facilities manager Jason Parenteau and others who worked on the recovery effort.
"Our custodians and our maintenance folks … have done an amazing job," Durkin said. "While we were sitting warm in a building, they were out there from early morning till late at night to get everything cleared."
Durkin said most people "kept their cool," and it was unfortunate that some people did not. She said she did not get many emails while the schools were closed.
"That says a lot about our families trusting us and in many cases people appreciated the extra time and understood what was happening," Durkin said.
School Committee member David Murphy said Parenteau and his staff should receive a formal recognition for their work at an upcoming meeting. Durkin said she would schedule recognition.