Wimpy Kids or Safety First: School Closing Decisions Generate Strong Reactions

Are we raising "a generation of wimpy kids" or are decisions based on safety concerns? Patch readers have been weighing in. What do you think?

Should the buses have rolled this week? Patch file photo.
Should the buses have rolled this week? Patch file photo.
To close or not to close, that is the question Northern Virginia school officials face every winter. They know that when the snow falls and the temperature drops, the issue will heat up — and there's no pleasing everyone.

That has been apparent this month as school districts from Arlington and Alexandria to Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties have wrestled with whether to close or delay school — sometimes based on potentially bad weather and sometimes based on dangerously low temperatures.

To borrow another old adage, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't — a point colorfully illustrated by Patch readers who've vociferously shared their opinions supporting and opposing the decisions school districts have made.

On closing for extreme temperatures, one Patch reader commented that it's "embarrassing. raising a generation of wimpy kids." But another took the position that "safety comes before school" when the weather is bad.

Tell us what you think about the school closing decisions in the comments section below!

There was support for closing schools when the snow was forecast to hit during the school day: "Storm is coming in the morning, students will have to leave school. The districit will save money on busing, meals, elec, heating by closing. The most important part is the student safety."

But as the days off began to pile up, readers questioned the decisions to keep schools closed: "Why don't we just close them until April, when all chance of frost is clear? Show our kids that Americans don't need to deal with adversity; don't need to work through adversity; and can't meet challenges successfully."

Which prompted this reply: If everyone wasn't ready to sue the schools would stay open ... Do you want your 5 yr old on a stuck bus? Or worse. Hit by some idiot in a hurry to go buy toilet paper ? Get a life!"

But when the decisions are based on cold temperatures, the comments really got hot: "Unless there's no heat at the school or a broken water pipe, there's no reason to cancel school. Snow or freezing rain? Sure, of course, but colder temps? Put some extra layers on."

Another reader commented: This can go on and on until we have to go to school in late June or early July when you will tell us it is too hot ."

But others disagreed: "It's purely a safety issue. All the need to have is one bus accident and everyone would be all over them about rushing to get back before the streets were cleared off."

There were also comments about how this weather would not affect school children in other regions of the country, such as this one from a former Vermont resident: "Mornings in January were often -20 degrees F, and yet the girls trudged out to the (unheated) barn to feed and water the horses and muck the stalls if it wasn't too frozen. Then they came back in, bathed, and got ready for school. It's a matter of what you're used to. We can endure a day or two. Wear layers."

But another relocated Northerner had a different take: "I grew up in Upstate NY and this was run-of-the-mill stuff. However we had ample equipment, road-shoulders wide enough for plowing, and a reasonable expectation of clear sidewalks and paths. Every student, no matter how poor, had the right gear, because you would need it for at least 40-50 days per year. It's simply not reasonable to push that expectation this far south, unless you're willing to pay for road-shoulders, snow plows, and path-clearers. Tax hike, anyone?"

But, as one reader noted, "the kids are going to get 180 days no matter what. So, instead of scrambling to find care during the Spring break, you scramble to find care now. It's all the same to me. ----- Frankly, instead of fretting over the time that I'm not at work, I'm enjoying spending some mid-week time with the Delinquents."

Post your thoughts about the school closing decisions in the comments section below.

Eric January 24, 2014 at 08:43 AM
The school should have a plan for cold days and that is not to close the school. That is what winter is about cold weather . If it's 10 degree everyday they just stay home. They would figure something out then.
Deborah Kelly January 24, 2014 at 09:13 AM
It is 9 degrees in Lake Ridge according to my phone right now at 9:06 am. The cost for the county to remove snow is great but the cost to sand and salt and chemical everthing to remove ice is substantial - probably much cheaper to keep teachers home. This is why snow days are built into the calendar. Reality is: our school system needs the money for other things than snow and ice removal. Was it wise to have a two hour delay today when Monday is already a teacher workday and the school system could have saved this snow/ice removal money and let the ice work it's way out over the weekend and on Monday by itself? I think not. I think whatever value the kids and teachers will get out of a partial day of school was not worth the extra money spent to get them this partial day. Our school system isn't rich and like I said earlier there are a lot of walkers, etc. who don't have clear sidewalks or even close to clear sidewalks to walk on and when you're talking 9 degrees - it ain't worth it. More benefit would have been gained to keep everyone home today.
Deb January 24, 2014 at 10:31 AM
It is ridiculous to keep kids home for cold weather. As long as the roads and parking lots are clear kids should be in school. As for the walkers and kids who drive themselves, when are the parents going to take responsibility? Drive your kids to school. And it's the parents who should be sure their kids are dressed appropriately for the weather. As for the make up days, taking away a teacher work day is one thing but taking away a federal holiday shouldn't happen. Nor should extending the school year which could disrupt many summer plans.
Rudy January 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM
I agree with Ms. Kelly! Additionally, not everyone in the county lives in Sterling Park or Ashburn Village! In more rural areas, the roads are still not the best to walk and or drive on! Thought.... If you lived in these rural areas, and you child was on the bus, the bus slid off the road and was stuck on the bus for several hours....would you complain and raise a stink? This is another reason that the school board made their decision. It is better for them to receive complaints of a handful more school days, than to have dozens of parents complaining about accidents, injuries and their childs well being. I give kudos to the board for announcing they were closing for the remainder of the week, days in advance. As this allowed us to plan, the best we could. Opposed to reacting to this information in the morning while watching the news!
Deborah Kelly January 24, 2014 at 10:55 AM
Good thing we have school officials making their best professional decisions instead of a bunch of nutty parents who can't agree on anything! We should support the school system's decisions even when we don't agree. Amen.


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