Is it really a Mid-Winter “Break”?

As I sit in my warm home, looking at my thermometer that indicates it is -20 outside (without the wind), I can’t help but wonder how my students will fare at home this week.
This historic cold concerns me. My students here in a rural community have no warming shelters to visit. They don’t all have parents with reliable vehicles, even if they start, to take them even to a store or library in a neighboring town – that’s if they have the fuel to get them that far.If the vehicles don’t start, how will the parents get to their jobs? How much income will be lost – sinking them further into debt?
I wonder what they will do as I feel the bitter cold seeping into my fairly well insulated home – and I have the ability to turn up the thermostat and pay that bill. Perhaps they qualify for HEAP – if they have applied. Be sure that the not applying can be due to pride. They are a proud bunch who love their children dearly and want to shield them from the poverty that exists in their lives.
I wonder about the child who even last week in negative 20s wind chills was coming to school with only a hooded sweatshirt as a coat.Is that child wearing that same sweatshirt just to stay warm in the house?
I wonder if they have frozen pipes.Frozen pipes mean no running water, no indoor working plumbing. And, having someone come to thaw them is a cost that many of them may not be able to shoulder. The other alternative is to DIY – which can be dangerous.
I wonder if their families have food in the house to sustain them until we perhaps have temperatures above zero, and they can get to a store.
I worry that the classroom is the warmest place they have to go – but we are on our Mid-Winter break, and they can’t even get on a warm school bus and come to school.
I worry about the stories I’ve heard about the snow coming in through the windows in their homes when it’s 30 outside, and wonder if they are warm. Are they waking to a blanket of snow INSIDE the house?
And, while we are a close-knit community, there has been an ugly attitude circling on social media – that maybe mom or dad shouldn’t have that tattoo, or that the family shouldn’t have satellite TV, but should be more concerned about food and heat. This attitude sickens me and makes me wonder who will help when there are some looking down their noses thinking that if the adults would just make better decisions – then it wouldn’t be an issue. But, let’s face it – when all you can afford for shelter is that run-down trailer that none of them would even consider living in-children will suffer.
The school sends lovely messages about dressing your child warmly, but what if you have nothing more than that hooded sweatshirt to keep your child warm? When did “we” become so heartless that “we” would watch others suffer and blame it on the parents?

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