As winter temperatures continue to plummet, decades-old infrastructure in Baltimore, Maryland public schools has left students and faculty in freezing conditions.
Now, without any sign of government intervention short of closing the schools indefinitely, one Baltimore native has issued a cry for help on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe.
“Students are still required to attend classes that are freezing and expected wear their coats to assist in keeping them warm,” Samierra Jones, a senior at Coppin State University and the fundraiser’s organizer, wrote on her campaign page. “How can you teach a child in these conditions?”
Jones launched the campaign on January 3, hoping to raise $20,000 that will go toward approximately 600 space heaters and outerwear. As of midday January 4, the campaign had raised more than $15,000 from 385 people.
Baltimore students have had to deal with harsh winters for years. A combination of aging pipes, shoddy insulation, and a lack of funding for maintenance have forced schools to close in the past. This winter, the Baltimore Teachers Union has urged all schools to shut down until the city can resupply heat to buildings, The Baltimore Sun reported.
There are roughly 180 school buildings in Baltimore. One-third received complaints on Wednesday alone about freezing temperatures. Students who are still made to attend often wrap themselves in blankets and heavy jackets. They say they have a hard time concentrating, the Sun reports.
Like Jones’ plea for support, other parents and students have taken to social media to publicize the heating issue.
Others pointed out that Baltimore’s education system has been in widespread disarray for awhile, despite Maryland being the wealthiest state in the US.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, came out in support of the Baltimore Teachers Union, calling the conditions “unsafe, unbearable and unacceptable for students, educators and school employees.”
“Kids can’t learn and teachers can’t teach in freezing classrooms and in schools with no heat, frozen pipes and frigid winds coming in through drafty windows,” Weingarten said in a statement. “We stand with the Baltimore Teachers Union and our members, who are standing up for the children they serve and demanding that the district close schools until crews can properly assess and fix the heating problems in every school in the city.”