A Frosty Beginning Into 2022


Dianne Barahona Bonilla, Reporter

Snow days — nothing says winter like a day off from school spent sipping hot cocoa and binge-watching classic movies while snuggled up under a blanket. For those traveling to work on frosty roads, it’s a different story; their journey is one waiting for disaster.

While snowstorms are fantastic for building snowmen, they have a major impact on the East coast. Cities like Clarksville and Leesburg, according to AccuWeather, received up to a foot of snow, resulting in multiple car accidents and traffic delays. Temperatures as low as 20.8 degrees Fahrenheit threw Virginia into a freezing spell. On January 4th, 2022, the major work road Interstate-95 — stretching over 40 miles — came to a sudden halt. Due to the snow and ice pile-up, several drivers were stranded during the unexpected weather. The highway was in gridlock for a whopping 30 hours, with most drivers being stuck in traffic the whole time.

Students face severe travel restrictions due to the icy road conditions. As a result, LCPS has strategically built 15 snow days into the school year schedule. If they go unused, students just endure more school. The goal is not to give students relaxing days off but to prevent students from suffering serious injuries because of the inclement weather. Icy road conditions also cause severe travel restrictions for students. Despite this, however, LCPS underestimated the road conditions on January 5th, 2022; Briar Woods’ experienced a 5-car pile-up on Belmont Ridge Road on their first day back from a four-day weekend.

Students are quick to point the finger at LCPS public information officer Wayde Byard, who, incidentally, whose job it is to keep the county’s parents and children informed about school closings and other LCPS news. The superintendent ultimately makes the decisions. The process goes as follows: the Assistant Superintendent for Support Services collects weather information from the LCPS Transportation and Facilities directors as well as the Division of Safety and Security employees. The ASSS (Assistant Superintendent for Support Services) considers all of the data before making a recommendation to Dr. Scott Ziegler, the county superintendent. Typically, students receive delay or closure news at 6 AM the morning of, but many argue they are notified much too late. However, LCPS tries to make a decision as early as possible to ensure the safety of students and staff. 

The process for deciding snow days is heavy. After learning of the snow day decision-making process, sophomore Kelly Castillo Bardales responded, “I actually want to know what happens if we run out of snow days.” 

In the event of an absence of snow days, Virginia state law HB 1790 mandates that schools hold a virtual learning day. Students in Virginia are required to attend 180 full instructional days; failure to do so could result in a school year extension. If you would like to be notified of weather-related alerts in LCPS, sign up for Loudoun Alert at https://www.loudoun.gov/alert. For those behind the wheel, consider taking a driver safety course at the DMV. If Frosty can prepare for the scorching heat of summer, you can prepare for winter’s icy dangers.