This winter has been snowier that unusual for the area according to the National Weather Service and the resulting school closings — snow days — are mounting up, leaving school officials looking for other days in the Montgomery County Public Schools calendar to make up lost instructional days.
“Two days were built in,” said MCPS spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala.
But with four weather-related closings, the school system needs to make up two days.
“It was already announced we are extending the school year to June 14,” Onijala said last week before Wednesday’s closing.
“If tomorrow [Feb 20 is a snow day] we will go to June 5, which is supposed to be a professional day,” she said.
The original calendar had students finishing up the year on Thursday, June 13 and no school on June 5.
Onijala said any more school closings would require MCPS to look into Spring Break or the week of June 17 for make-up days.
That does not seem out of the realm of possibility according to Ray Martin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Forecast Office.
He said the Washington, D.C. area has had above normal snowfall this year with Reagan National Airport reporting 3 inches above normal and Dulles, seven inches.
“There’s potential for wintery weather for Friday,” he said on Monday, Feb. 25. “And there’s always a chance for snow in March.”
Adding up to a definite potential for more wintry weather, he said.
How does MCPS decide to close schools during bad weather?
According to the school system’s website: “Information about the weather is gathered from many sources, including The National Weather Service, Accu-Weather, the news media and by actual inspection of roads, school driveways, and sidewalks throughout the county. Weather conditions in surrounding counties are also gathered and factored into forecasting conditions for Montgomery County students and considered for those students attending non-public schools in other areas. Information from these various sources is factored into the decision.
“Weather conditions or continuing impact from severe weather or other events such as a widespread power outage, may cause a delayed opening, early closing or closing for the day. The most severe conditions within the county are used as the basis for the decision-making criteria. A uniform procedure to close all schools is maintained so that the school system can respond quickly to emergency conditions and protect the safety and well being of students and staff who attend both public and non-public schools and receive transportation services from Montgomery County.
“For early morning decisions, road inspection begins at 3 a.m. so that a decision can be announced by 5 a.m. through MCPS emergency information sources and media, such as radio, tv and websites.”
To get the latest information on school closings, visit https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org