FCPS should make timelier cancellation announcements


photo courtesy of twitter.com

On Feb. 17, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) school board member Ryan McElveen announced a school closing at 9:50 p.m.

Sandy Cho and Stav Nachum

Two days ago, on Feb. 17, it seemed that most high school students at Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) were refreshing FCPS school board member Ryan McElveen’s Twitter in hopes of his latest tweet informing them of a cancellation for the following day. Hopes began to dwindle as the hours passed and cancellation became less likely. Finally, at 9:50 p.m., the good news was announced and school was cancelled for the following day.

It seems as if for the past two years, FCPS school board members have been deciding whether or not to cancel school much later in the night or early morning than they used to. In fact, on Jan. 8, school was officially cancelled at 7:01 a.m. after FCPS called a two-hour delay, which was announced at 4:46 p.m..

In previous years, a forecast for snow used to be enough to cancel school, especially if it was projected to accumulate at least six inches. Yet this year, even with the storm on Feb. 17, which was supposed to bring five to eight inches of snow, school was not officially cancelled until 7:22 p.m. on Feb. 16 and 9:50 p.m. on Feb. 17.

With the case of Feb. 17 in particular, other counties made their decisions hours before FCPS decided to announce their cancellation, such as Fauquier County Public Schools at 4:31 p.m. Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) at 6:30 p.m.

Therefore, FCPS, which borders LCPS, should release their decision soon after especially since according to the “Inclement Weather Plans” on the FCPS website, the county takes “other school systems in the region” into account when making decisions.

While it is understandable that FCPS requires more time to make decisions, especially since the county is so big, many students need to know about snow days earlier in order to coordinate with their parents about rides for school the next day. In addition, working parents are forced to make last-minute arrangements for younger children in elementary schools, such as arranging babysitters or figuring out after-school activities.

It is understandable that an early decision regarding snow days is not a feasible option once in a while, but FCPS has repeatedly announced snow days late into the evening throughout the year.

Perhaps one key to solving this issue is to create consistency in regards to when FCPS announces their cancellations each night. Rather than having students aimlessly waste hours refreshing pages in hopes of a snow day announcement or parents worrying about their children for school the following day, FCPS should simply announce their decision on closing by 7 p.m. each day, or at least provide an update at that time as to when parents and students can expect a final decision.