The Science of Calling a Snow Day
How the staff at PGCPS determine when schools should be closed or delayed.
The forecasted snowstorm Monday night looked more like a wintry mix for most of the county, yet Prince George's County Public Schools closed Tuesday.
Some county parents were left scratching their heads this morning about how the decision was made, like reader J. Doe who said, "Any good reason why school was cancelled today based on the weather we got?"
So how does the county make the call on a snow day? It may not be scientific, but there's a method to their madness.
Lynn McCawley, a spokeswoman with the county's public schools, said Tuesday that they monitor storms days prior and in some cases start making decisions as late as 3:30 a.m. of the day in question.
"We work with local and county agencies [like the county's department of public works and the Maryland State Highway Administration] to determine the snow situation and we send out our own drivers to check the streets," McCawley said.
"We have to make the call based on the worst case scenario," she said, adding that the type and amount of snowfall can vary in different parts of the county due to its large size. "We have to close the county schools as a whole, not just the northern part of the county."
McCawley said they also confer with surrounding counties and school staff to help make a decision before presenting information to Superintendent William R. Hite, who makes the ultimate call.
As for delays, she said, those calls are made when it's determined the snow "may cause some complications and problems while it’s dark and cold out."
McCawley said so far students have racked up four snow days this year, which will not affect the length of the school year because these snow days were built into the year.
The last day of school, however, won't be determined until mid-March after the threats of snowstorms dwindle, she said.
Right now, however, the last day is listed as June 17.