Snow day excitement does not excuse rude behavior on social media

Ellen Kan and Anjali Khanna

As another winter storm threatens to touch down in the Washington, D.C. area, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students are gearing up for another social media battle. By now, we have mastered a notable skill: the art of presenting a case for closing school due to inclement weather.

As soon as forecasts predict anything from mere cold temperatures to snow flurries, students are quick to jump on social media and try to win the attention of School Board members like Ryan McElveen. Some even dedicate the entire evening to rallying for the cause; they concoct inventive letters, statuses and tweets arguing for a snow day.

When FCPS officials deliver good news, students take social media by storm in celebration. However, the responses are decidedly less appropriate when things don’t turn out the way most had hoped.

This month’s wintry fiasco proved that FCPS students can get very creative with their protests. But a major problem emerges when students take their discontent to a new level by channeling this creativity into insulting, vilifying and libeling School Board members.

In the last few weeks, some students seemed to forget that social media does not excuse disrespectful behavior. Students are still in direct communication with teachers, members of the School Board and, frankly, other human beings on Twitter and Facebook, even if they’re caught up in the excitement of a potential free day and the high school student’s battle cry of #closefcps.

Almost ironically, FCPS has recently been put under fire for being too cautious with their cancellation and delay policies. On Jan. 14, the school board decided to close schools based on the previous night’s weather predictions of snow that never arrived, sparking social media criticism of FCPS’ snow cancellation policy from both students and parents alike.

However, since the county’s call satisfied most high school students, McElveen tweeted about the surprising lack of student hate on his twitter feed that day.

Students need to remember that the county makes decisions about delays and cancellations after inspection of minimum temperatures that school buses can handle, information gathered from weather reports and consideration of student and teacher safety.

Student protests and social media rants play no role in the decision-making process. Arguing with, sub-tweeting or outright defaming School Board officials is both useless and offensive. Communication with FCPS officials can be humorous, but it should never become distasteful, as there is a fine line between joking and cyberbullying.