FCPS Faces Weather Disruptions

County policies attempt to handle every winter condition


FCPS has to deal with a wide range of winter weather each year.

From snow to the bitter cold, Fairfax County has experienced a lot of winter weather lately. This has led to many closures and delayed openings. With all the uncertainties that surround school closures and delays, it’s beneficial to know what weather conditions lead to which actions and where the best place is to receive information about these actions.

Fairfax County Public Schools tries to make a decision about whether or not to delay or close school in the evening to allow parents time to make childcare arrangements for the next day, but sometimes the weather is unpredictable or the forecast is uncertain. In this case, a decision regarding school will be made by 4:30 a.m. the following morning.

In the event of a closure or delay, the first place to be updated will be the FCPS twitter (@FCPSnews). The other forms of notification, such as the website, email, and texts, are updated as quickly as possible, but they take longer to formulate, so there is normally a gap between Twitter updates and other updating services. These closures or delays will affect the entire county, not just certain regions where the weather is very bad. FCPS has several magnet schools in the county, which means that students may attend a school in one region but live in another. This could render a student unable to come to school, thus making it more efficient to close the entire county.

There are nine potential conditions for school closures or delays, with two conditions that have subsets mandating what can occur. Condition 1 is an all-day closing for both schools and offices. Every activity on school grounds or related to school is canceled. Condition 2 closes the schools, but not the offices. Condition 2 also cancels all activities related to school or occuring on school grounds. Condition 3 has two possibilities as to what can occur. The first option, Condition 3A, is that both schools and offices open two hours late. The second option, Condition 3B is that just schools open two hours late while the offices open on time. Condition 4 is a two-hour early closing. This involves schools and school offices will close 2 hours early, with all activities after school canceled. The only exception is SACC, will will stay open until 6:15 pm. Condition 5 closes the schools and has the offices open two hours late. Condition 5 also cancels every activity related to school or occuring on school grounds. Condition 6 cancels all after school activities, including late buses. The only exception is SACC, which will stay open until 6:15 pm. Condition 7 closes all school grounds and facilities starting at 6:15 p.m. Condition 8 cancels any school activities scheduled to occur on school grounds during the weekend. Condition 9 has three possibilities that can occur. Condition 9A closes all schools and offices. Condition 9B delays school openings and Condition 9C closes school early. All options for Condition 9 are chosen beforehand. For further details about the exact activities canceled, click here.

People are often concerned about makeup days surrounding school closures. Fairfax County has 12 makeup days built into the schedule, but the equivalent of 19 days can be missed without makeup. If students miss 20 days of school then April 5, which is a teacher workday, is considered as a makeup day. However, if 21 days of school are missed, there is no makeup required. Further makeup details are available here. A video summarizing the FCPS closure and delay process and policies is available here.