News & Politics

Suburban School Districts Apologize for Opening During Snowstorm

Fairfax and Loudoun counties are really sorry they made kids go to school today.

SMDH. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Washington wound up getting more snow than the original forecast of one to two inches, turning what could have been a light blanket of powder into a full-blown winter freakout across the area that is now causing major grief for several local school districts that decided against closing. Although school-aged kids in Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Howard counties got the day off, and got a two-hour delay in Alexandria, their peers in DC and Arlington, and Anne Arundel, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties are sticking to the normal schedule.

Naturally, the schools that elected to stay open have been hearing it on social media from their students aggrieved at trudging through the snow and riding the bus down slushy, messy roads while kids a few towns over get to kick it at home. The outrage is so strong, the hashtag #closeFCPS is currently the top trend on Twitter locally, and one of the top ten on the entire planet. DC Public Schools is hearing it, too.

Even though many of DC’s roads are still being cleared, DCPS spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz says the system is sticking by its decision to operate during normal hours today, and that school won’t be letting out early. But not all of the suburban districts that opened share DCPS’s icy resolve. Administrators in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, where the snowfall reached three to four inches, are buckling to the criticism and walking back their committments to wintertime academia.

“Clearly, the conditions became far worse than anticipated,” reads a Loudoun County Public Schools statement. “LCPS regrets any confusion or stress today’s decisions may have caused. Student and staff safety remains our top priority and policy and procedures around closure and delay decision-making will be reviewed and enhanced using lessons learned today.”

Fairfax County Schools share the contrition: “We apologize for the difficulties the weather caused this morning,” its statement reads. “Please know that significant area government entities were coordinating at a very early hour. The decision was made with the best information we had very early this morning. Needless to say, the conditions were far worse than anticipated.”

But even with all the social-media ire and regrets for opening on time, Fairfax and Loudoun counties don’t have it as bad as Anne Arundel County, where private schools are openly trashing their public counterparts for staying open.

“In light of the weather conditions today that jeopardized the safety of students and employees, Archbishop Spalding High School will make its own decisions regarding school delays and closings,” reads a statement from Archbishop Spalding High School, which closed at 11 AM after initially following guidance from Anne Arundel Public Schools, which are open. “We have followed Anne Arundel County for years due to the wide geographic spread of our families around the county. However, experiences last year and again today have prompted this decision to determine delays/closings independently.”

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.