FCPS Admits ‘Wrong Call’ on Keeping Schools Open

(Updated 2:20 p.m. with new statement from Fairfax County Public Schools)

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Garza issued a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the decision to not delay or close schools despite Tuesday morning’s snowfall.

Meanwhile, all Tuesday evening and after-school activities are canceled, FCPS says.

Wrote Garza:

It is clear that our decision to keep schools open today was the wrong call given the intensity of this weather system. We are very sorry for that. We have heard from many of our families and we are listening. We thank you for your patience and working with us through this very difficult circumstance. Student safety is always our first priority in determining whether to open or close schools.

We will dismiss schools at their normal times this afternoon. Although weather and road conditions are improving, we do anticipate that some of our buses will experience additional delays transporting students home. As we indicated to you earlier, if you wish to pick up your child early, please feel free to make those arrangements with your school. SACC centers will be open today until 6:15 p.m., which is their regular closing time. SACC administrators request parents make every effort to pick up children earlier, if possible.

We appreciate the many teachers and school staff members that worked diligently to get our schools ready. We have also heard that many parents volunteered to help the schools welcome our students.

Our focus now is to get our students and staff home safely this afternoon. Students who were unable to get to school today will be given excused absences.

Please know we will be going over our procedures and processes to make every improvement possible to avoid the situation we encountered this morning. We are closely monitoring the weather conditions and will make a decision with regard to schools opening tomorrow and will let families know, through our normal communication processes, as soon as possible.

Original story:

After a morning in which several inches of snow fell and schools remained on schedule, Fairfax County offered an explanation for keeping its schools open.

Fairfax County Schools opened without delay on Tuesday, even as buses were stuck, cars spun out and many county roads were unplowed. #CLOSEFCPS was trending on Twitter.

FCPS posted this statement on its website at 10:20 a.m.:

We apologize for the difficulties the weather caused this morning.

Please know that significant area government entities were coordinating at a very early hour.

The decision was made with the best information we had very early this morning. Needless to say, the conditions were far worse than anticipated.

Weather conditions are expected to improve around midday. At this time, we are planning to dismiss schools at their normal dismissal time, however, we are continuing to closely monitor the situation and will keep parents apprised.

We are aware that people are asking us to cancel school. Students are safest at school when parents have not had a chance to make alternate plans for their child’s return home from school. However, should you wish to pick up your child early, we will accommodate you. Again we apologize for the difficulties experienced this morning and we thank you for your patience.

Photo: Sunrise Valley ES students try and get to school Tuesday/Credit: Christy Winters Scott

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