- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003

Parents already worried about more missed classes scrambled to pick up their children yesterday after yet another snowstorm forced most area schools to close two to three hours early.
Schools already have four or more days of lessons to make up after an unusually large snowfall this year.
"Every moment counts," said Mary Tycz, who has a son at Glasgow High School in Fairfax County. She said he was due to take Standards of Learning tests in algebra and history this year and hoped he could catch up.
But, she added, it was not something schools could help, either.
"The roads are not safe, and you cannot expect schools to endanger children," she said.
Some school districts made a decision to remain open all day, however, including the District and Anne Arundel County.
Anne Arundel County schools spokeswoman Jane Beckett Donahue said the storm was expected to be heaviest in the middle of the day, so it was safer to let children stay in class.
Schools are likely to remain closed today because this storm is expected to dump as many as 10 inches of snow on the region, but officials were holding off on making announcements until early this morning.
Montgomery County decided to open on time yesterday because the forecast was for only a dusting of snow and school buses were already picking up students when the weather worsened, schools spokeswoman Kate Harrison said.
The decision to close schools early sent parents into a tailspin.
"My day was kind of hectic with schools closing three hours early, you have to make arrangements and leave work early. Employers understand, but there's still work that has to be completed, and it puts you in a precarious situation," said Howard Tutman, president of the Prince George's County PTA, whose daughter attends Woodmore Elementary in Mitchellville. "It can be extremely frustrating,"
Ausra Kaminskas, whose daughter attends Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary in Rockville, said she had to cut short her day at work as an acupuncturist to pick up her daughter and a friend's daughter.
She said parents were helping each other's children catch up with the curriculum.
"On Monday one of the moms at our school gave all the children a math quiz," she said.
Schools said they were also trying hard to get children to keep up with their lessons.
"Teachers are scrambling for ways to get material to the children," said Paul Regnier, a spokeman for Fairfax County schools. He added they were concerned about the SOL tests "because they are set by somebody else and it is all out of our hands in terms of timing."
Some parents, however, said they were not worrying.
Denise Watkins, whose daughter Erikka attends School Without Walls in Northwest, said she believed time at home was time well spent.
"I looked at my daughter's time off at home as a blessing. We didn't allow the weather to get the better of either of us," Ms. Watkins said, adding Erikka's time was spent "productively."
Some children chose to spend their time at the mall after school closed early yesterday.
Kenny Lassiter, a sixth-grader from Kenmoor Elementary in Landover, said his mother was ready for him to go back to school, but he is not.
"It's fun. We've been going bowling and playing around in the snow," said Kenny's friend, Antoine Williams.
Schools are required to open 180 days every academic year, and usually plan for three or four snow days. But most have already had eight or more snow days so far this year and are considering drastic plans to make up.
The Arlington County School Board will vote next month on whether or not to extend the school day by a half-hour to make up for time lost, spokeswoman Adrian Bailey Carver said.
In Fairfax County and Alexandria, students will attend classes on some scheduled holidays.
Montgomery County and the District have no specific plans yet, but like most area school districts, they will consider adding days to the end of the school year.
In Maryland, school districts have received a two-day waiver from state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. In Virginia, the state allows a five-day waiver if school districts have more than 10 snow days to make up.
Parents said they were not comfortable with the idea of a longer school year because, among other things, some tests are scheduled as early as next month and adding days to the end of the year will not help.
Mr. Tutman said it was also difficult for children to attend schools late into June.
"We have a small number of schools that have air conditioning. The students will be uncomfortable, the teachers will be uncomfortable, and what is accomplished?" he said.
Patrick Badgley contributed to this report.

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