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Mother Nature Exacts a Toll on Schools

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The fierce blizzard that dumped record snowfalls along the East Coast and into parts of the Midwest and South last week forced cancellation of school for millions of children.

So severe was the storm that even the New York City public schools closed for the first time since 1978.

School officials in the metropolitan Washington area, struggling to dig out from some 20 inches of snow, announced by midweek that they had lost the battle: None of the districts in the nation's capital or the surrounding suburbs would open for the remainder of the week.

New Englanders couldn't even laugh at the tendency of their brethren to the south to panic at the sight of a few flakes. Schools across southern New Hampshire closed down for part of the week.

Boston schools, too, shut down for part of the week after record snowfalls. The district has already used up its five snow days and was making contingency plans to meet the state's 180-day requirement.

"You can't dictate to Mother Nature," said Jane S. Feinberg, a district spokeswoman.

Philadelphia students also stayed home for most of the week, although school administrators were being recalled Thursday.

--Karen Diegmueller

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