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Some commutes had already begun when city called snow day

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein made the official decision to close the New York City schools this morning, at 20 minutes before 6 o’clock. That was in time for TV news stations to declare the news by 5:50 a.m., but too late for some teachers to sleep in — especially those who’d already begun their morning commutes.

Here’s some of the testimonials NYC Educator collected after asking where his readers were when they heard the snow day news:

“I was freezing my ass off at a bus stop waiting for a 36 bus to take me to school.”

“I was already on the road from LI when the wife called. I was certain she misheard – so I didn’t turn around until 1010 said the same a minute or two later.”

“I was just about to leave for school and got about 3 text messages at once. A whole morning of checking the news and I got the most important news via text message… go figure.”

NYC Educator points out that his children’s school district, in a suburb outside the city, alerted his family to the news the night before, via a phone message. “There was nothing that changed, or was going to change, so dramatically between 4:00 and 6:00 that warranted such a long wait,” one of his readers writes. “I’m not saying he needed to announce it last night, but 4 or 5 in the morning would’ve been considerate.”

Department of Education spokeswoman Melody Meyer, who had the privilege of delivering the good news to reporters (I got my e-mail at 6:35 a.m.), says the system made the decision in the morning deliberately, after spending the night consulting with sanitation workers and bus companies to scope out the situation. “We need to take input into the morning driving conditions, and we can’t do that until the morning,” Meyer told me.

The timing does not seem to be unique to Klein. Eric Nadelstern, the city’s chief schools officer and a longtime DOE employee, said he’s never heard of a snow day being announced before 6 a.m. in the city. And he’s been in the system for 37 years.

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