Snow school buses

Snow-covered school buses in Ashburn, February 2014.

In case you thought past experience with remote learning – month after month after month of it for Arlington students during COVID lockdowns – would allow school leaders to keep classes going despite the wrath of Mother Nature, think again.

Arlington Public Schools will be able to use up to seven days’ worth of instructional time as snow days before reverting to a “virtual” setting this winter, Superintendent Francisco Durán told School Board members on Oct. 27.

“Let’s hope we don’t have that this year,” Durán said of that many days lost to weather, “but it’s possible.”

After the seventh day is lost, the school system will move into an online-learning format in order to avoid tacking additional days onto the end of the school year.

The superintendent also announced that decisions on closures will be announced, if possible, by 6 p.m. the preceding day.

“We will make every effort,” Durán said, but has a fallback time of 5 a.m. the next morning.

The superintendent also signaled, if opaquely, that the school district will err on the side of caution in terms of weather-related closures.

Arlington used to be one of the few school systems in the region that could be counted on to stay open unless conditions were forecast to be really bad. But then one time, during the tenure of Durán’s predecessor Patrick Murphy, schools opened only to find the region hit with a harder-than-expected snow and ice mixture. The resulting chaos and public clamor seemed to cause Murphy to subsequently embrace a duck-and-cover approach, closing schools on even the off chance of bad weather, which has been maintained by his successor.

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