January 6, 2015

Washington DC-Area Schools And Snow: Let The Recriminations Begin!

By Bellwether

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Jan 6 snow bus-1You may have heard (or seen on Twitter), it snowed in the D.C.-area this morning. A fast moving clipper came through and left more snow that was expected. The storm arrived at the worst possible time, peaking during the morning rush in an area that never does snow well.

This, of course, created trouble for school systems that had to make an early morning call about opening or closing based on imperfect information (that turned out to be wrong, the storm exceeded the forecast). Result: It was messy. The picture above is an Arlington County school bus paralyzed on a hill and there was a lot of that going around. Now, a lot of angst about schools being open when people think they should have been closed and several counties have apologized to parents. More examples here. But keep in mind that had this been a storm as forecast the second-guessing would be about how soft school officials were for closing for an inch or two of snow. When the calls are on the edge there is a ritualized element to the complaining. And it’s worth remembering that there are costs to the idea that erring on the side of closing is always the right choice. In addition to lost learning some students lose the best meal they see all day. These snow closing decisions are no-wins for school systems and the marginal calls always look more straightforward in hindsight.

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