Arlington school leaders may have to reconfigure their 2021-22 calendar if Mother Nature throws any more snowballs at the region.
With all five days last week lost to snow – technically, four to snow and one to causes noted below – Arlington Public Schools now has just one built-in extra day at the elementary-school level and two at the secondary-school level before it has to start adding time.
“We may need to adjust that calendar,” Superintendent Francisco Durán told School Board members on Jan. 6.
But not right now: School leaders proposed, then quickly rescinded, the idea of sending students to school on Jan. 31, which had been designated a grade-preparation day for teachers.
Students and staff already had been off for more than two weeks over the Christmas period when a major snowstorm hit the region on Jan. 3, the day everyone was expected back.
Classrooms were shuttered on Jan. 3, 4 and 5, but school leaders then promised to open on time Jan. 6 – only to change their minds.
Durán said the ongoing closures of other local school districts caused some Arlington Public Schools personnel who lived there to decide not to report for work.
“Continued closures in our area made it difficult for us to open [on Jan. 6],” he said. “We would not have adequate staffing.”
Then another, much more benign, storm dropped a few inches overnight on Jan. 6-7, causing the cancellation of classes Jan. 7, as well.
(Even though roads were largely clear and life was momentarily back to normal, School Board members opted to retreat to a “virtual” meeting on the evening of Jan. 6, using the weather-related state of emergency declared by lame-duck Gov. Ralph Northam as the justification. As a result, several major issues that had been slated for discussion were deferred to future meetings.)
Earlier in the school year, leaders said they could continue instruction “virtually” if inclement weather hit, since students and teachers have had plenty of practice with it over the past two years. But Durán said power outages in some areas of the region would have made it challenging to deliver education that way during the week.
The superintendent did not, however, rule out the occasional “virtual” day if future storms cause more disruption.