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Sunday, December 20, 2009

How MCPS Closes Schools for Weather

Lately, I've been getting a lot of questions about how MCPS closes schools, so here are the answers to your most asked questions:

How is the decision made to close schools during bad weather?

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 and school administration, not the Board of Education, makes these decisions.

Weather conditions or continuing impact from severe weather or other events such as a widespread power outage, may cause a delayed opening, early closing or closing for the day. The most severe conditions within the county are used as the basis for the decision-making criteria. A uniform procedure to close all schools is maintained so that the school system can respond quickly to emergency conditions and protect the safety and well being of students and staff who attend both public and non-public schools and receive transportation services from Montgomery County. In any case, the school system always considers the safety and security of you all when they make these decisions.

The weather may be bad elsewhere in the county, but fine where I live. Why aren't the nearby schools in our zone open?

The decision to close schools because of weather (or other widespread situation impacting safety) is always for the entire system. MCPS busses transport 96,000 students every day, and of these, 16,000 students are transported to schools beyond their home school attendance area. To close by cluster or zone would mean students living in a less affected area might be unable to attend their school and vice-versa. This creates unequal access to the instructional programs and making sure each student receives the required days of instruction becomes difficult. School must be accessible for all students to be given the ability to participate in instructional programs. In the case of non-public school closings for schools located outside of Montgomery County, the Department of Transportation works with schools on an individual basis to assure each student receives the required days of instruction. However, in the interest of the safety of all students and staff, whenever Montgomery County Schools are closed all transportation services to public and non-public schools is cancelled.

How and when do I find out that the schools are closed/closing?

For early morning decisions, road inspection begins at 3 a.m. so that a decision can be forwarded to media in time for the 5 a.m. broadcasts. The decision will also be available online by 5 a.m. In case of an early dismissal, all announcements will be made by 11 a.m. Sometimes, decisions will be so obvious that they'll be available earlier online and for the media.

How many snowdays can we have before it rolls over into summer?
If schools are closed...The school year will be extended by...
5 daysone day to June 17, 2010
6 daystwo days to June 17 and 18, 2010
7 daysthree days to June 17, 18, and 21, 2010
8 daysfour days to June 17, 18, 21, and 22, 2010
9 daysfive days to June 17, 18, 21, 22 and 23, 2010


  1. GOOO LARRY! :)

  2. What is the chance that there will be no school on Tueday and Wednesday? If so, wouldn't it be like an extended Winter Break? :)


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