Fairfax County postpones return to school

Snow days lead to week-long addition to winter break


Philip Rotondo

Students participate in a snowball fight on the football field Tuesday, Jan. 4. Schools were closed due to inclement weather for the entire week.

With the new year came the biggest snowstorm in recent history in the NOVA area amidst the spiking rates of Omicron Covid cases. On Jan. 3rd, there was 14 inches of snow in many parts of the DC Metropolitan area, resulting in multiple closures for Fairfax County Public Schools. 

“The hardest hit area was the Southern part of the county (Hayfield, Mount Vernon and Annandale),” Jeff Platenberg, Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Transportation, told McLean Principal Ellen Reilly. “There are back roads that have not been cleared nor are sidewalks cleared for students to walk to school – there are about 20,000.”

Although school officials have not mentioned the COVID-19 case increase and Omicron variant as a reason for closures this week, it has been minimally taken into consideration. 

“When it comes to COVID, yes, there was thought around it, [especially when] looking at the number of [bus] drivers,” Reilly said. “There would have been many double-backs [drivers making multiple trips for the same school back-to-back] due to personnel being out with COVID.”

FCPS announced that schools would remain closed on Friday, Jan. 7 due to another incoming snowstorm. It is the last of the allotted regular snow days and essentially resulted in a three-week long winter break. 

“I think it is reasonable that they are closing school due to weather concerns since it has snowed twice this week and roads are still very icy. I don’t believe that the weather is the sole reason they’re canceling, I’m sure it is also because of COVID safety,” junior Abby Chung said. “However, I think…FCPS officials should communicate and be more fluid about what they are planning to do for the students’ safety.”

While school officials worry about snow, many students are concerned about how the days off will impact their schoolwork as the end of the second academic quarter approaches.

“I think the days off may make it harder to finish the units for certain classes and teachers will have to rush to complete their lessons,” junior Abby Chung said. “I’m a bit concerned about how we will stick with the end of quarter date and if they’re planning on extending certain lessons.”

Potentially having to postpone major lessons and projects are also a concern for some students. 

“Due to losing a week, tests and quizzes may be postponed since we did not get to learn the material we were supposed to yet,” senior Cheryn Hong said. “I imagine many students are stressed about not having enough time for there to be more grades put into this quarter or being able to do retakes/corrections.”