It snowed yesterday.
Two inches, more or less. All the local schools, except those in the District of Columbia, were closed. The parents hated it; the children loved it. School administrators said it wasn't their fault.
"Hindsight is 20-20," said Montgomery County school official George Baker. "If we knew at 5:30 a.m. what we knew at 10:30 a.m. we'd be in school. But I wish I'd bought Xerox at $9 a share, too."
The predawn snow warning of three to six inches predicted by the National Weather Service yesterday fizzled to a blizzard that barely covered the grass in some areas.
But at 5 a.m. yesterday, the area school systems were hastily dispatching their transportation workers to test the road conditions. The suburban arteries were judged to be slippery. Radio stations and wire services were called. No school today.
"We have very important considerations to make," said Fairfax school official William J. Shadle. "People have to get to work safely and a bus in a ditch can really snarl things."
So can children home on a weekday.
"Whenever the kids stay home from school, we bake brownies and chocolate chip cookies," sighed Nancy Gittleson, a Rockville mother of three. "This snow day is going to cost me five pounds."
Gittleson, who said she was "flabbergasted," groused, "School officials see two flakes of snow and they get terrified."
Montogomery County school official Ken Muir sighed. "No matter what decision we make, it's wrong. If we had opened, we'd have gotten 12 to 15 calls saying we're risking the child's life. If we close, people say when they were young they walked 10 miles through snow drifts."
In Prince George's County all 219 schools were closed, giving nearly 127,600 students a reprieve from classes. To the south in Virginia, where the snowfall was heavier, the area's largest school system, Fairfax County closed all 167 schools, forcing more than 128,000 students to seek alternative activities. Arlington County also closed its 32 schools, giving 15,000 students a snow holiday.
In Montgomery County [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] school closed [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] yesterday, keeping 102,000 children home for the day.
"It's ridiculous, said Barbara Fisher, a working mother who stayed home with her son Charlie, a first-grade student at Ritchie Park Elementary school. "Besides losing money, it bothers me because my employer doesn't have to put with me not being at work."
Those who did go to work found main arteries salted and snow-free, although some city and suburban streets still were slick.
An average of two inches of snow fell in the Washington area yesterday, a bit more in the southern suburbs of Virginia and a bit less in northern Maryland areas. Washingtonians will not get any new snow today, according to the National Weather Service, but they can expect blustery weather with bitterly cold temperatures.
As of yesteday, emancipated students were taking advantage of the weather snafu.
"I like schools closed," said Debra Goldman of Rockville, who was rolling on the lawn with her brother David. "We're making snow angels even though we're Jewish."