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March 1 Now Likely to be Full Day Off for FCPS Students

by Karen Goff — February 18, 2016 at 10:00 am 8 Comments

South Lakes High School It looks like Fairfax County Public Schools students will get the entire day off on Tuesday, March 1, as voters head to the polls in Virginia.

March 1 is Super Tuesday, when Virginia and a dozen other states vote in the 2016 Presidential Primaries.

Since many polling places are at schools (including Hughes Middle, Aldrin Elementary, Sunrise Valley Elementary, South Lakes High School and others in Reston), the FCPS school board voted in October for a two-hour delay on March 1.

Since then, there has been extensive lobbying of the Board of Supervisors — including by Fairfax County Electoral Board Secretary Kate Hanley, a Reston resident and the former county supervisor chair (1995-2003) — asking that the schools be closed for the day. Hanley said she had security concerns as a very large turnout is expected.

In January, the BOS voted 9 to 1 to ask the schools to close. At that time, schools superintendent Karen Garza said there were no plans to close FCPS on primary day.

In Fairfax County, schools are always closed on general election day in November.

It looks like Garza has changed her mind now.

On Wednesday, Garza announced that the school board will consider the closure on March 1. A vote will be taken by the school board tonight.

“In all past presidential primaries, our schools remained open and we had hoped we could continue this practice and conduct school,” Garza said in a statement. “However, in light of historic turnouts in primaries across the country in the past two weeks, it is anticipated that voter turnout here in Fairfax County will likewise result in historic numbers of voters. The Board’s vote will take place at it its business meeting Thursday, Feb. 18.”

There are a total of 167 FCPS buildings used as polling sites. Elementary schools, which have very limited parking, comprise 124 of those sites

“Record voter turnouts in New Hampshire and Iowa, and anticipation of an historic voter turnout from the Fairfax County Office of Elections, lead us to believe that there could be significant logistical issues regarding parking and building access on March 1,” said Garza.

“We are also concerned that the sheer number of citizens entering schools to vote will make it difficult to conduct a normal school day. Both the Office of Elections and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have encouraged us to consider closing schools March 1 and, after deliberating with state officials, and after weighing these many factors we have decided to recommend closure.”

Under the proposal for a March 1 closure, teachers and students would not report to school. SACC, school offices and central offices will be open, said Garza.

Because Fairfax County has additional hours built into the 2015-16 standard calendar to accommodate weather emergencies, it will not be necessary to make up the day, she added.

  • meh

    more likely Garza needs to free up the school busses so she can bus her Hillary supporters to different polling sites.

  • Anonymous

    How ridiculous. Even if there are a lot of voters, I guess we can’t have our little snowflakes being exposed to the political process. And security concerns? There haven’t been any major incidents anywhere else in the country, but now are we scared that there will be hostage situations at local polling places?

    No wonder our education system is in such a sad state and FFX county schools are having budgetary issues, when this is the stance of the leadership of the school system.

  • Holly

    Do you know if those that vote at Terraset are still being directed to Langston Hughes due to the construction? Or is voting back at Terraset?

    • Karen Goff

      Last I heard I still at Hughes

    • John Farrell

      It is likely that Terraset precinct will stay @ Hughes permanently because pedestrian access to Hughes is easier than it is at Terraset and there is far more parking for voters at Hughes.

      The name of the precinct should probably be changed to Hughes to avoid future confusion.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Even without the Right Wing Oath of Allegiance requirement, the county still can’t trust the rightwingers to behave with a modicum of decorum near children. Kinda sad that you folks brought this on the rest of us.

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