Fairfax County students sound off online, call for snow day

WASHINGTON — Students are lashing out on social media after Fairfax County Public Schools failed to close or delay schools Thursday — a day that the region is getting blasted by some of the coldest air in decades.

On Twitter, #CloseFCPS is trending Thursday morning as students voice frustrations that school was not delayed or closed. Many other school systems in the region issued two-hour delays. Some others outside of the immediate metro area are closed.

A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect for the area until Friday morning as temperatures will feel like -15 to -5. The region is set to see its coldest air in more than 20 years Thursday.

May 24, 2024 | (Megan Cloherty)

Also, problems with the school system’s buses caused some kids to wait longer than usual in frigid temperatures to get picked up.

Initially, FCPS said buses in the South Lakes, Herndon and Marshall areas were running 30 to 60 minutes late Thursday morning.

Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman John Torre said the delays were due to “mechanical issues” with the buses.

Torre says as it turned out, only the high school buses and a couple of middle school buses ran late. The elementary school buses were on time.

“The problem this morning was simply buses that had been idle for a number of days,”  Torre says.

Schools have been closed since Friday because of the Presidents Day holiday and snow days. The bus problems occurred, even though transportation officials had been running the buses over the last couple of days.

The school system has 1,500 buses. There were problems in three of the system’s 25 high school pyramids.

“A two-hour delay was considered last night, but with the roads improving as they have over the last couple of days, the decision was made to go on time this morning, as a number of other districts did as well,” Torre says.

With more cold weather expected Friday, Torre says the system will evaluate the situation to determine whether a delay is warranted.

The school system faced a similar situation last month when parents and students were outraged after it failed to delay or cancel school when a snowfall complicated commutes for many in the county.

Torre says the District monitors social media for any threatening language and has no objection to them expressing themselves and being creative.

“If it does cross the line obviously it becomes a different story.”

But parents might take issue with their children saying something online they wouldn’t want to hear them say in person.

“I think children need to understand what they post online is a reflection on them. And they need to think about how their reputation can be affected by the way they conduct themselves,” says CBS News technology consultant Larry Magid.

Magid, who co-founded ConnectSafely.org, says kids need to understand their online posts reflect their character.

“Because at the end of the day people are going to see it, they’re going to judge you. They may take it out of context and the words you use online can reflect who you are,” he says.

He suggests parents sit down and talk with their teens about the difference between legitimate social protest online and when it crosses the line.

Below are some of the #CloseFCPS messages online:

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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