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Snow day policy stirs confusion

Result+of+snowfall+in+Fairfax+during+a+winter+storm+from+2016.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Wikipedia%29
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Snow day policy stirs confusion

Result of snowfall in Fairfax during a winter storm from 2016. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Result of snowfall in Fairfax during a winter storm from 2016. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Result of snowfall in Fairfax during a winter storm from 2016. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Result of snowfall in Fairfax during a winter storm from 2016. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

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In the winter of 2010, a blizzard of mass proportions hit Fairfax County as well as the entire east coast. The storm left schools and offices throughout the county buried in snow for multiple weeks, much to the joy of students; however, this loss of class time due to the blizzard put teachers behind on their lesson plans, making it difficult for them to teach their students what they needed to know before their end-of-year exams. As a result of instances like this, FCPS put a policy into place in which 13 days are built into the school year for snow, in addition to starting school before Labor Day as of this school year.

While these policies may be beneficial in the long run, many students are either confused or not in support of the new snow day policies. Though school districts generally are not allowed to start before Labor Day, Fairfax County received a waiver allowing them to begin school earlier because they had averaged eight or more snow days the past few years, including the hours compiled from two-hour delays. This leaves some puzzled, however, about the purpose of the other five days built into the schedule.

“We only get like five snow days a year, and my summer is shortened for nothing,” junior Jennifer Wu said. “Since we do have 13 days, the school board might as well utilize them; it’s only fair for the students.”

There is confusion among students and staff over whether the school year is now longer as a result of this policy because although school is starting much earlier, summer vacation begins around the same time.

“On the surface, it seems that if we’re given thirteen snow days, then we should get to end school earlier if we don’t use them all,” English teacher Stephanie Passino said. “But I think there is some kind of mathematical equation to how they put in these days.”

With so much confusion surrounding the implementation of this policy, there is not much of an explanation on the FCPS website about how the policy actually works, apart from the fact that the 13 days are built into the 990 hours that are required for the school year. FCPS has stated that summer will not come earlier as a result of fewer snow days, making it unclear to students and teachers whether or not the unused days are additional to the 990 required hours of classroom education.

If the policy does indeed add more days to the school year, most students agree that 13 days are an excessive amount to cover our average annual snowfall. With so much extra time given at the beginning of the year to cover for hypothetical snow days, there seems to be no purpose for the days tacked onto the year in late June, when students have all taken their most important exams. Therefore, students are hoping for a compromise to make the snow day policy more efficient.

“They are wasting resources in keeping that amount of days but not using most of them,” junior Ahmad Siddiqui said. “I think seven to nine days max would be more reasonable”

While the commitment to giving students enough time to succeed in school is very much appreciated, the hope is that there will be more clarification in the future on the details of such a major policy and the consequences it has on the overall school year.

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