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As snow days pile up, educators consider options

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By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 11, 2010; 5:59 AM

As most school systems in the Washington area shuttered their doors for the rest of the week, parents and educators began assessing the impact of an unplanned week-and-a-half vacation while yet more snow fell Wednesday.

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Some educators began pointing students and parents toward Internet resources so the week wouldn't be lost altogether. Others looked at the clock and planned to wait it out.

(Here's a link to our complete, continuously updated school closures list.)

"Clearly, having this many snow days does create an unplanned interruption to instruction," Montgomery County schools spokesman Dana Tofig said Wednesday. Teachers plan to get right back on track Tuesday when school resumes after Presidents' Day, he said.

In Fairfax County, which will stay closed all week, many teachers have been using an online bulletin board to communicate with students and assign work, said Fairfax schools spokesman Paul Regnier. The D.C. school system, which closed for snow Thursday, and is out for holidays Friday and Monday, has posted links to online museum tours, performances and grade-level work packets. Loudoun County schools, which are out until Tuesday, aren't planning major online efforts because of concerns that not all students have home access to the Internet.

"We'll do extra tutoring when we come back," said Loudoun schools spokesman Wayde B. Byard.

All area schools have been closed since at least midday Friday and just about all area school systems will remain closed Thursday and Friday (Culpeper County schools have not yet decided about Friday). Schools in Falls Church City, Manassas City and possibly Fauquier County will hold a makeup day of classes on what was to have been a day off for Presidents Day, Monday Feb 15.

Some school officials are concerned about lost instructional time before statewide standardized tests and national ones such as the Advanced Placement exams. Adding class time at the end of the year won't help students prepare.

In Prince George's County, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said over the weekend that he planned to petition Maryland to push back its statewide tests.

In Virginia, schools have a month-long window to schedule standardized tests, said Charles Pyle, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education. He said he expected that schools affected by the snow may shift tests to later dates.


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