Everyone knows the feeling of going to sleep dreaming of a snow day. Then waking up, for some people at 5 a.m., to check the MCPS website with fingers crossed hoping to see the red font that means you can go back to bed. What most people do not know about is the process that happens from the time you go to bed until the time you wake up that determines whether or not there is a delay, cancellation, or if school will start on time.
The decision obviously relies on the weather, but there is often a fine line as to what weather will need a delay or cancellation. MCPS often has difficulty deciding which way to go, sometimes waiting until the very last minute to make a call. The county can make a decision as early as they want to, although they are rarely made early. “A decision must be made by 5 a.m.,” according to http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org.
Some wish that MCPS would put a policy in place where they would announce snow days by the night before so that they could go to bed knowing if they could sleep late in the morning. “Snow days should be announced because it is unfair to people who wake up really early for school, and then find out they never actually had to wake up that early, because they may have trouble falling back asleep,” junior Kyle Hermary said.
Students often look toward the weather app on their phone to form their snow day predictions. MCPS uses a variety of sources to determine whether or not a snow day or delay is needed. “Information about the weather is gathered from many sources, including The National Weather Service, Accu-Weather, the news media and by actual inspection of roads, school driveways, and sidewalks throughout the county. Weather conditions in surrounding counties are also gathered and factored into forecasting conditions for Montgomery County students and considered for those students attending non-public schools in other areas. Information from these various sources is factored into the decision,” according to http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org.
During many snow days or non-snow days, students and teachers have questioned the decisions the county makes. Some feel the county closes at unnecessary times, and some feel that the county does not close in dangerous conditions. “I think there have been some unnecessary snow days but most of them have been needed,” junior Harrison Lee said.
One reason why we often have delays and closures on days where the conditions are not that bad is MCPS closing policy. If the northern part of MCPS has unsafe conditions, the whole county closes even if the southern part is safe, which is a common occurrence. This happened as recently as the last snow day on Feb 8. “Once again, upcounty weather dictates school closing decision,” WUSA-TV meteorologist Howard Bernstein said.