Snow days are adding up at Washington area schools this winter

March 17
MYERSVILLE, MD - JANUARY 21: A Frederick County, Maryland school bus sits idle during a snowstorm on . Tuesday January 21, 2014 in Myersville, Maryland (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
A school bus in Maryland during a January storm. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

This post has been updated to reflect school closures on Monday, March 17.

With a series of storms and cold snaps during the winter of 2013-2014, snow days at the region’s schools have been piling up. The snowstorm that began early Monday morning has led the region’s school systems to cancel school yet again, and school closures in most jurisdictions have passed the number of closures during the 2009-2010 winter, when the area was hit with “Snowmageddon.”

Here are the closures so far for the District and surrounding suburbs as of Monday and how they might affect the school year:

D.C. Public Schools
2012-2013 closures: 3
2013-2014 closures: 6

The District’s public school system has only one snow day built into its calendar and already has canceled classes five times this year. So the district will now need to make up five lost days. D.C. schools already were scheduled to make up three days at the end of the academic year in June. Tuesday, June 2, is no longer a Parent/Teacher Conference Day; Students are expected to report for school on time for a full day of instruction that day. Thursday, June 19 was previously scheduled as the last day of school, and it is now a full day of instruction and/or testing. Students also are expected to attend school on Friday, June 20. With an urban setting that gets less snow than some of its suburbs, and with a school system that has almost no busing — students rely on public transportation to get to school — it is the least likely school system in the region to close due to inclement weather.

MARYLAND

Montgomery County

Outdoor tables and chairs are covered at Woodlin Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, after a snow storm hit the region overnight. Classes were suspended in Montgomery County, Md., and many schools are closed in the Washington region. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Outdoor tables and chairs are covered at Woodlin Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md. after a January storm. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

2012-2013 closures: 3
2013-2014 closures: 10

Montgomery had four snow days allotted in its regular academic calendar this school year, so it is now at more than twice that limit with the closure Monday. In general this would mean Montgomery must tack on five days to the end of the school year — and schools officials have announced the possibility of extending the last day of school from June 12 to June 19 — but there is a caveat: Montgomery has the option to seek a waiver from the state that would allow the district to have a school year of less than 180 days. State officials have not yet publicly discussed its plans for waivers during this very unusual winter. Montgomery received a state waiver during the 2009-2010 school year of Snowmageddon fame, and it did not have to tack on days at the end of the year.

Prince George’s County
2012-2013 closures: 2
2013-2014 closures: 8

Prince George’s County already was below Maryland’s minimum for instructional time for the year after its most recent closings; and the school district is now four days behind. Prince George’s likely will dip into summer vacation to make up for lost time, but like Montgomery, schools officials also could seek a waiver from the state, allowing them to end the school year as scheduled. Without a waiver from the state, Prince George’s would extend its school year’s final day from June 5 to June 13.

Howard County
2012-2013 closures: 4
2013-2014 closures: 9

Howard County has five snow days built into its regular calendar, so as of Monday the school district is now four days behind. The school year originally was scheduled to end on June 11, but it will now end on June 18 at the earliest.

Frederick County
2013-2014 closures: 12

Frederick County public schools allotted five days for snow days this academic year, and they’ve already more than doubled that. Makeup days are scheduled for Friday, March 21; Monday, April 14; and Tuesday, April 15. The school board has voted to request a state waiver to allow county schools to open on Monday, April 21. The school district already extended the school year to June 12, Monday’s closing could lengthen the year further.

VIRGINIA

Alexandria
2012-2013 closures: 3
2013-2014 closures: 10

Students in Alexandria will have to attend school on two previously scheduled professional work days this spring — March 14 and April 11 — as a result of its first five closures of the year, but there isn’t yet a plan to deal with the most recent closures. Schools officials could add extra minutes to regular school days to make up additional time.

Arlington County

ARLINGTON, VA - DECEMBER 10: Andrew Carnahan and his daughter Roxanne build a snowman as snow falls during a winter storm at the Marine Corps War Memorial December 10, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. Forecasts called for significant snowfall in the Washington, DC area as much of the nation reels from severe winter weather. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Andrew Carnahan and his daughter Roxanne build a snowman at the Marine Corps Memorial on Dec. 10 in Arlington.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

2012-2013 closures: 3
2013-2014 closures: 9

Arlington County has announced that it will change a teacher grade preparation day on March 31 into a full school day and that some elementary schools and a secondary program that have scheduled early release days on Wednesday are losing those early release days to make up programming time. As of the last two closures at the beginning of March, Arlington schools officials were not planning to pull back any vacation time or to extend the school year, but Monday’s closure could affect that plan.

Fairfax County
2012-2013 closures: 3
2013-2014 closures: 11

Fairfax County administrators already had extended the school year to Monday, June 24 as a result of the first 10 snow days this year, and they are considering extending the year an additional day as a result of the 11th cancellation. Schools officials also are considering adding minutes to the class schedule during the remaining months of the school year and potentially asking the state for a waiver to allow it to skip over lost time. Not all students will have to make up for the snow days: Seniors in the Class of 2014 will already have taken part in graduation exercises that are scheduled to begin June 17. Already, schools officials have added two days to the academic calendar to make up for missed class time due to weather. Students attended school on the federal President’s Day holiday on Feb. 17, and they are scheduled to attend on April 7, what had been scheduled as a teacher work day.

 

Loudoun County
2012-2013 closures: 4
2013-2014 closures: 14

Loudoun has closed schools more often than any other school district in the Washington region this winter, but it still hasn’t had to add school days to its calendar because of a unique scheduling situation: The system’s school days are longer than in other school districts, so it has an extra 15 days of school built in from the start. It would need to close two more times this winter to cause changes to its schedule. Loudoun’s western reaches often get more snow — and have more difficult driving conditions due to dirt roads — than much of the rest of the region. Snow and icy conditions in January caused the schools to miss an entire week — Martin Luther King Day, three snow days and a rescheduled teacher work day — causing the schools to cancel midterm exams and alter teaching schedules.

Prince William County

MANASSAS, VA - JANUARY 22: Emily Peterson, 17, and her brother, Ethan Peterson, 13, get a push from their father, Chris Peterson as they take advantage of the recent snowfall and sled at Manassas National Battlefield Park on Wednesday January 22, 2014 in Manassas, VA. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post)
Emily Peterson, 17, and her brother, Ethan Peterson, 13, get a push from their father, Chris Peterson as they sled at Manassas National Battlefield Park. (Matt McClain/ The Washington Post)

2012-2013 closures: 6
2013-2014 closures: 13

Prince William’s 13 closures are the most in recent history as the county has passed the number of closures during the 2009-2010 school year. Prince William County was already more than two full days short of the state’s required number of instructional hours and will need to make up time. The school board voted in February to convert a teacher work day on March 31 into a regular school day; to make June 17, previously the scheduled last day of school, a full instructional day; to add a half-day of school for elementary students on June 18; and to reduce recess in elementary schools to 10 minutes per day.

But it could be worse …

Though Washington area school systems have seen numerous closures this year due to snow and cold, it could be far worse, as it has been in counties that aren’t so far away. According to the Maryland Department of Education, Garrett County — which is on the far western tip of Maryland — has had 20 school days canceled due to weather this school year as of Monday. That’s nearly a month’s worth of school, and 14 days more than the school district allotted.

Get updates on winter weather from The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

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