- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A sudden drop in temperature yesterday morning turned rain into sleet and snow and prompted most area school districts to close early after opening on time.

Anne Arundel, Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were among the major school districts to shorten the day.

“We keep an eye on the weather,” said Lynn McCawley, a Montgomery County public schools spokeswoman. “They closed early because the weather changes every hour.”

The forecast for temperatures to drop into the mid-20s and stay below freezing prompted officials also to cancel extracurricular activities yesterday and face another school-closing decision this morning after an overnight ice storm.

Some parents in the area were upset about the early closures, including some in Montgomery County, where schools closed at about 12:30 p.m.

“I don’t think this was really necessary,” said Tom Csorpas, whose son, Mark, is a first-grader at Rock View Elementary School in Kensington. “This weather isn’t bad enough to close the school.”

But school officials said they walk a fine line between making sure students get enough class time and calling off school because of foul weather.

Weather-related closures are “an annual challenge,” said John White, a Prince George’s County schools spokesman. “Our strategy is to keep kids in the classroom to learn while balancing the need to notify parents of school closings as early as possible.”

Road crews and drivers are out by 3 a.m. in order to report conditions so school officials can make a closure decision by 5:30 a.m., he said. They try to make decisions about early dismissals by about 10 a.m.

Last night, in anticipation of more icy precipitation overnight, some districts announced that schools will be closed today.

At Rock View, Principal Patsy S. Roberson said there were no problems getting the students onto four waiting buses, then home yesterday.

However, parents at Garrett Park Elementary, where the streets are narrow and hilly, said the early closure was good.

“I saw it coming,” said Lisa Rider, a physician who took the day off from the National Institutes of Health, to meet her son, Benjamin, a fourth-grader, and walk home with him. “We haven’t been getting much snow this year.”

Some Prince George’s County parents also approved of the early school closure.

“It happens,” said Joe Harris, whose daughter attends Capitol Heights Elementary School in Capitol Heights. “It’s not a big deal.”

Valencia Boyd came from Hyattsville to pick up her two daughters at Capitol Heights. She thought the school district made the right decision.

“I’d rather pick up my children and be safe,” she said. “I really don’t mind it at all.”

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