I know that I have previously complained about the snowphobia that grips Washington, D.C. the minute a flake descends from the clouds. I have long been mystified by the closures of schools and businesses with even a dusting of snow. Then there are the spontaneous car crashes that seem to follow immediately after a flake hits a car hood. However, nothing prepared me for today. All of the school in Fairfax are closed because it is cold. That’s right. No, snow. No freezing rain. It is eight degrees so schools are closed. That is clearly really cold. But does it require cancellation of schools? The forecast today is sunny with a high of 17 degrees. [Update: As of noon, it was sunny, 19 degrees, and rising in McLean.]
The cancellation was accompanied by news reports last night that can strangely close to the “Class 3 Kill Storm” from The Simpsons. News anchors spoke in near panicked tones of the crisis befalling the city and approaching menace. You would have thought that we were about to see a scene from “The Day After Tomorrow”.
Last night, around 5 pm, I received this emergency alert: “All Fairfax County public schools will be closed Tuesday, January 7, due to dangerously low temperatures and wind chill.”
I realize that I am from Chicago and a bit more comfortable with cold weather. However, it took a temperature of -50 today to shutdown schools in Chicago. We did it with 8 degrees. Yet, just across the county line a block from my house, the Arlington schools are open after a slight delay and the Washington DC schools and Alexandria are open without a delay. These districts are all within the same ten mile radius.
Now, I will admit that I love having the kids home but I have a job that allows me the flexibility to be at home. For hundreds of thousands of parents, these cancellations mean missed work and other logistical problems. Those costs really seem to be part of the decision.
I do not take lightly that it is cold. However, I just got back from Chicago with below zero temps (before the recent severe drop to -50 with wind chill). The kids played outside and we went on with our lives. We dressed warmer than usual.
So I am interested in your view: should Fairfax have closed the schools: