A look at how MCPS makes snow day decisions

snow day sabreIt’s a sunny day and you just got out of school. You’re in such a good mood because you know there’s a snow storm coming. All day during school, you’ve been checking Twitter to see if MoCoSnow has posted one of his infamous pencil predictions. You get home at night and you’re just constantly refreshing Twitter, awaiting the golden prediction: five pencils. He finally posts it, and it’s three pencils. Seems like it’s always three pencils. This means there is a sure chance of a delay and a 50% chance of the whole day off. So now the decision is officially up to Montgomery County. Whatever happens happens, and the only thing you can do is wait for the official call.

We’ve all been in this position. Although it may seem like Montgomery County makes the call just based on the incoming weather and road conditions, this isn’t true. The county considers many factors when making decisions.

One thing they look at is the amount of snow days built into the school calendar. Although this is never a concern for SJC, extending the school year is something Montgomery County schools try to avoid. This year, the county built three snow days into its calendar, and so far, these have all been used. These are only used when a day off is called, so the days don’t disappear when a delay or early dismissal is utilized. Something else that falls into this category is school meals. Some students rely on school lunch as one of their only sources of food. If there is no school, kids go hungry. That being said, Montgomery County tries to avoid closing schools at all costs.

Another factor in the decision-making process is school parking lots. There are over 200 public schools across Montgomery County, and if just one school parking lot hasn’t been treated for snow, this can cause major problems. It’s hard for crews to clear all of these parking lots in a matter of hours. All it takes is one untouched parking lot to potentially close schools.

A third factor is sidewalks. Thousands of students take the bus to school in the morning, meaning they have to walk to the bus stop. The school district can’t have students slipping and falling while walking to catch their buses. It is on Montgomery County to clear the sidewalks, and it’s hard to clear every single one in time for school. All of these factors fall under the category of safety, and that is obviously at the forefront of every weather decision. Montgomery County is a big area, and it’s hard to make sure everything is safe enough for schools to open. This is why the county always looks at the worst spots when deciding whether or not to open schools.

So next time you think SJC will open their doors on time after a storm just because your road is clean, think about all of these factors and know that Montgomery County puts safety first.

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