School Closings

Questions
1)  How do I find out about school cancellations, delayed openings or early dismissals?
2)  How do I get on the list to get email notifications or text messages about school closings?
3)  Who makes the decision about school cancellations, delayed openings and early dismissals, and on what is the decision based?
4)  When is the decision made? Why aren’t school closing announcements made the night before?
5)  Why does an announced decision occasionally change?
6)  Why is school cancelled if there is no snow?
7)  Once the weather event ends, why doesn’t school resume as quickly as we might expect? Sometimes the snow has stopped, the sun is shining and still there is no school.
8)  Are sports activities cancelled when school is cancelled?
9)  Are school closings announced in Spanish?
 
Answers
1)  Q How do I find out about school cancellations, delayed openings or early dismissals?
A
As soon as possible after the decision is made, the Global Connect automated phone system calls every student home phone number in the student data base. Radio and TV stations are notified, an announcement is posted on the school division web page and on the FCPS closings phone line (422-7250), email and text messages are sent to eNotify subscribers, and an announcement is posted on the school division’s Channel 18, which is available to Comcast cable subscribers. The school division has no control over timing, frequency or method of the media’s communication of the information. Neither can the school division guarantee delivery of the eNotification notices. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of more than one means of learning about school closing announcements.
2)  Q How do I get on the list to get email notifications or text messages about school closings?
A
Click on “Sign Up for Email and Emergency Text” under “Stay Connected” on the school division’s web page.
3)  Q Who makes the decision about school cancellations, delayed openings and early dismissals, and on what is the decision based?
A
While it is the desire of the school division to have students in school all day every day, the division superintendent makes decisions about school cancellations, delayed openings and early dismissals with the safety of students and staff as the primary factor in the decision. Considered in the decision are forecasts from weather services and information on road conditions and other factors from the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Department, the school division’s Transportation Department and the Virginia Department of Transportation.
4)  Q When is the decision made? Why aren’t school closing announcements made the night before?
A
The superintendent makes each weather-related decision as early as possible and practical. When possible, closings and/or delays are announced the night before, particularly when it is clear that weather and road conditions will not improve. If the superintendent and staff believe a better decision can be made in the morning, hinging on changing conditions, the superintendent exercises that option and makes every effort to make decisions about school closings by no later than 6 a.m.
5)  Q Why does an announced decision occasionally change?
A
Dependent on worsening weather and road conditions, on some occasions it is necessary to change a school closing or delay announcement. Parents are always encouraged to “stay tuned” for the possibility of a change in school cancellations or delays. Delays may be lengthened or even changed to cancellations, if conditions so dictate.
6)  Q Why is school cancelled if there is no snow?
A
Sometimes severe weather is forecasted to hit Fauquier County between 6 and 8 a.m., the worst possible time for a school division, when school buses are getting on the road. Depending on the forecast and on weather conditions that are being closely monitored by school administration, occasionally the superintendent decides to cancel school before the problematic weather arrives. It is safer to keep students home as the county faces the threat of significant snow accumulation and the possibility of hazardous road conditions than it is to bring students to school and then send them home during a major weather event. Of course, since no forecast is failsafe, there will be occasions when snow doesn’t come as early or as intensely as forecasted. This is a difficult call to make.
7)  Q Once the weather event ends, why doesn’t school resume as quickly as we might expect? Sometimes the snow has stopped, the sun is shining and still there is no school.
A
Once snowfall ends, school parking lots, bus loops and sidewalks must be cleared. As a point of information, when we have a weather event, school custodians are required to clear the sidewalks; however, the County, rather than the school division, is responsible for clearing the parking lots, which normally takes about eight hours. Whenever feasible, we do try to use two-hour or three-hour delays instead of full-day cancellations. However, typically the extra hour or two is not enough to get parking lots and sidewalks cleared and for road conditions to improve in some of our more rural areas. Decisions concerning school closings are made based on conditions across all of Fauquier County. While conditions may appear safe in one area, they may not be safe in another area of the county. Decisions are made based on the best available information concerning conditions throughout all of Fauquier County, including all of the more rural areas.
8)  Q Are sports activities cancelled when school is cancelled?
A
Yes. All school activities are cancelled.
9)  Q Are school closings announced in Spanish?
A
Yes, the school closing telephone line (422-7250) announces information on closings and delays in Spanish. The phone line is the only emergency notification tool presented in a second language.