Schools slammed for delayed ‘snow-cisions’ during recent winter weather

snow in D.C.
Traffic saw backups all around the region on Jan. 6, 2015. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — During last Tuesday’s heavy snow, some school systems were lambasted for failing to delay or cancel classes. Thousands of parents and students were marooned in gridlock, especially in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County.

Public school officials in Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington counties issued apologies to parents following the ordeal. Still, a few jurisdictions suggested that the weather forecasts were flawed.

The blame-game ensued as on-camera meteorologists sounded off.

WUSA9 meteorologist Howard Bernstein said, “You put a lot of kids, and your faculty, and your administrators and your bus drivers in jeopardy today by failing miserably on the call not to close schools.”

Bernstein said superintendents of those counties deserved an “F” for that day.

“I know sometimes they’re not easy calls. This one was a no-brainer.”

Steve Rubin with the ABC7 Weather Center scolded Arlington County Public Schools on Twitter for their reluctance to close:

The National Weather Service forecasted the potential of greater than two inches of snow and a disruption to the morning commute days in advance.

This week, snow-skittish superintendents have delayed or canceled classes for two relatively minor bouts with wintry weather renewing the decades-old tradition of catch-22 snow-cisions.

Wayde Byard with Loudoun County Public Schools says they make every attempt to get it right.

“We have about four forecasting services that we subscribe to. We then send about 18 people out on the roads about 2:30 in the morning … Between the forecasts and eyes on the road by 5 o’clock we make a decision.”

Byard says his office has since responded to over 1,500 e-mails and answered over 500 calls since last week’s initial decision not to close.

“Occasionally you’re going to miss a call. Every superintendent does. We got caught last week. It is not easy. People should remember that no matter how much they criticize the decision there’s a human being who cares about children on the other end of the decision. We really have safety as our number one priority.”

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