School districts cope with snow days - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

School districts cope with snow days

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Some local school systems have maxed out their snow days and may have to add instructional days at the end of the school year.

Other districts have no problem at all with snow days. Why? They have longer school days.

All of the major public schools systems in metropolitan Washington kept closed Wednesday to allow crews to clear Tuesday's snowfall from parking lots, sidewalks, and steps in hopes of opening on Thursday.

CLICK HERE to check the latest weather closings and delay

But for now -- playtime! Pete Strider is a fourth grader at D.C.'s Murch Elementary School. What has he been up to this week?

"Yesterday, we went sledding. Um, and then today we're sledding. So, I've been sledding,” he said.

The problem with so much winter playtime is state education departments generally require about a thousand hours of instruction each academic year. Most local school districts build in "snow days" -- extra days of instruction on top of the average of 180 days.

But this winter, “Well, we've had four snow days so far this year. And we have four snow days built into the calendar. So, we've reached our max," explained Dana Tofig, spokesperson for Montgomery County Public Schools. "So, if we have another snow day, it is possible we'll have to extend the school year at the end of the year."

So, the school system in Montgomery County -- and in neighboring Prince George's County -- are dead even on snow days.

Fairfax County has already maxed out of snow days, and will hold classes on President's Day, Feb. 17, and on a previously scheduled teacher workday on April 7. Any further snow day consumption there could cut into summer vacation.

Parent Karen Strider pointed out a logistical problem with that: "You know the tricky part is a lot of kids go ahead and sign up for camp, right? So, even if you have school, like, the Monday and Tuesday after the [last] week, kids are already in camp. So, usually attendance is pretty low."

D.C. is considering a summer extension of about two days (to make up for lost instructional time), but a final decision has not yet been made.

Prince William and Loudoun Counties have longer school days than average, and therefore they rarely need to add instructional days to the end of the year. For Loudoun County to need more days, it would take an unprecedented 15 snow days.

Of course, winter is not over.

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