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APS Closed; Traffic Volume Light

by ARLnow.com January 28, 2013 at 8:10 am 1,391 129 Comments

Intersection of Lee Highway and Military Road at 8:00 a.m. Monday morningArlington Public Schools are closed today thanks to the threat of freezing rain and icy roads this morning.

Arlington was one of the only local school systems to not close early on Friday due to the threat of snow. It’s now the only school system inside the Beltway to close today; D.C., Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Alexandria are all on a two-hour delay.

Meanwhile, with the federal government on a delayed opening, traffic volume on local roads and highways is very light.

No major accidents have been reported so far in Arlington.

  • Bill

    Closing for this was a super fail by APS. It’s one thing to play it safe, it’s another to completely blow it.

  • Mary


  • Arlington, SSR

    Yeah, pretty stupid. Should have delayed 2 hours, at most.

    • R. Griffon

      Agreed, but if you’re going to close for SOMETHING, freezing rain is pretty far up there on the list. Most indications (incl. forecasts last night), were that it was supposed to be cleared up by 10 or so, but I guess they’re just playing it on the safe side when it comes to icey roads. Which I can understand.

      /APS parent home for the day

      • CrystalMikey

        Kudos to you, rational parent!

    • speonjosh

      It could be that the APS weather closure folks were just getting bored. It’s been a couple of years now that they haven’t been terribly busy. And the days are built into the schedule, so why not?

  • Max

    Too late for APS to revise??

  • dd

    So what?

    Life goes on, complainers.

    • Parent

      Exactly, life goes on! Enjoy the time with your children. They are only little once.

    • fuzzy

      Shut up unless you have school age kids. I’m able to be at work, but this totally screws my wife’s plans for the day. Now she has to bring the kids to her work and to a doctor’s appointment.
      This area is a joke when it comes to school and gov’t cancellations.

      • CrystalMikey

        Um…easy with the “shut up” thing. They are you’re kids and you most likely chose to have them.

        • CrystalMikey

          your* kids

      • CourthouseChris

        Wow your kids sure seem like a burden to your delicate lives. You know, there are a number of fine prophylactic products on the market now and have been for several decades.

        • Pork Pie Hat

          Ah, delicious Monday morning random hate. Don’t hold back, get it all out.

        • BBMS

          Haha, they probably didn’t know about condoms and regret their kids! Good call, Chris.

          • CourthouseChris

            Yup, that’s the joke alright.

        • Hee-Haw

          funny, I didnt get the sense that his kids were a burden to him.

          • jackson

            For his wife, on the other hand…

          • drax

            He’s saying whoever cancelled school is a burden to him.

        • fuzzy

          Kids are not a burden to me or my wife. However, when you have plans or appointments that are made weeks and even months ahead of time, having their school closed for the day creates a major inconvenience. It’s one thing when this happens because the kids are sick or there’s an actual weather problem…it’s another when parents are forced to use their limited PTO/vacation days because the school system closes when it shouldn’t.

      • Hank

        This sounds like you’re equating school with a glorified babysitting service that cancelled on you last minute.

  • Teacher

    As an APS teacher who commutes over 35 mins ( and does not live in Arlington) I think he made the right call. Think about the teachers who travel into this county. I surely did not want to drive in freezing rain!

    • John

      All due respect “Teacher” but we all have obligations and responsibilities. If the federal workforce is open today and private businesses are open today why not schools. Are teachers so weak, special and/or lacking in driving skills that they need to be treated with kid gloves?

      • ArlSouth

        Right, John, this decision was based on the teachers, not the 19,000 students, some of whom have to walk to school. But, at least you didn’t pass up an opportunity to call teachers weak.

      • Teacher

        I’m assuming you are not a teacher, John? And also as a mother of a toddler that drives in to work with me, I would rather not risk my sons or my life to drive in to work. You don’t know what conditions are like in my area. I was simply stating my own opinion.

        • Ali Seth

          Maybe you should not be letting your toddler drive!

          Also, the affordable housing solved these types of problems.

          • CMG

            HA! Affordable housing. Good one.

        • Pack

          Why is a toddler driving a car?

      • CrystalMikey

        John, you wouldn’t complain about an impromptu day off from your job, now would you?

      • HJ

        John, the federal workforce is due to work by noon. Would starting school at noon make any sense? In any case, why are the feds given until noon when many schools (and the “weak” teachers) due in at 10? What kind of weak fed workforce do we have?

        • Rory

          Actually, feds were to come in at 10am.

          Judging by how many people were in my office by 8, many didn’t even bother to check if tehre was any kind of closure. I didn’t

      • FrenchyB

        Guess you missed that the federal government told its employees not to leave for work until after 10 this morning.

      • Buckingham Beauty

        The teachers aren’t, but certain lawsuit-happy parents of their students would be quick to sue if little Muffy or Junior slipped on ice getting off a bus and cracked open his or her head.

      • C

        I would guess the decision does not have to do with commuting teachers- nor should it. The federal government opened at 12 and folks were encouraged to remain off the roads until 10. If APS had a delayed opening, buses would have had to been on the road much earlier than 10- given the delay would put the school opening at 10 and earlier for several schools.

    • Hugh

      Agree! Anytime I get the day off is a “right call”

  • APS

    Oh noes! Water is falling from the sky! PANIC!

    • drax

      Really lame.

      APS has to make a tough call. They made it. Bet you’d be a massive failure if you were in charge of it.

      • Hee-Haw

        It’d be lame if it weren’t true.

        • drax

          It’s not true.

          • Hee-Haw

            its apparent you don’t drive that much around here. Many people do panic as soon as any precipitation falls from the sky. The POSSIBILITY of freezing rain is what caused the closings this morning…I’d say that qualifies as a panic-driven decision.

  • novasteve

    I think they take into account in this area how incompetent the drivers are when making these decisions.

    • kate

      we’d never have school if that was the case.

    • Hee-Haw

      wrong, its all about the kids. Heaven forbid, a kid slips on ice on the way to school. Its just a way for APS to not take responsibility when/if there are accidents during this weather, which they don’t have to anyway. But the spineless parents have to blame somebody.

      • speonjosh

        But for this logic to hold, schools in Minnesota would never be in session from about November through April.
        And don’t give me the “there are fewer lawyers in Minnesota” crap. What about Boston? Plenty of lawyers, plenty of winter weather. Yet the schools are in session in conditions that regularly cause shut-downs around here. Did you know that APS kids do not go outside for recess if it is less than 32 F?
        It’s just regional wussiness. But, what are you going to do? That’s just part of the deal. Nothing really to get upset about.

        • Hee-Haw

          I love when people try to compare this area to areas that get way more snow/ice than us.

          I agree, it is regional wussiness. I’m not really sure why you felt the need to respond, maybe boredom ?

  • arlingtongal

    My theory is APS teachers complained because school didn’t let out early on Friday when it snowed. So now they’ve decided to appease them by cancelling today. It should have been AT MOST a 2 hour delay. It’s getting into the 40’s later today! Absurd.

    • Louise

      LOL! You think the superintendent did this for the teachers?!? Hilarious. These decisions are made for the students, especially the bus riders.

    • CMG

      It’d be a cold day in hell when they make any decision just to appease the teachers.

      /APS teacher

  • ArlSouth

    People will complain no matter what. Hindsight is always 20/20. Fed gov’t said stay off the roads til 10am so they closed.

    If they went 2 hour delay this would have been comment: “APS took my kid’s bus away and now he has to walk to school 1 mile on an icy sidewalk.”

    News flash: school systems make difficult decisions to ensure the safety of their students and staff. Occasionally, this will not be convenient for YOUR schedule. Welcome to parenthood.

  • APSstaff

    arlingtongal your theory is wrong.

    • arlingtongal

      Do share, APSstaff! I’m just not seeing why a two hour delay wouldn’t have been sufficient today.

      • CrystalMikey

        I doubt teachers complaining would get them a day off.

        • arlingtongal

          There’s a joke here somewhere, but I’ll leave that to someone else…

        • Teach

          Agreed. NO amount of complaining would get us day off.

          • Summers?

            Teachers get an entire summer off, wear jeans everyday, and work from 7:30ish to 3ish. They should be the last people complaining about anything job related.

          • Doug

            Summers?, I think you are vastly underestimating dealing with kids all day long. From elementary aged kids who can’t concentrate on 1 thing at a time, to High School know it alls that talk back, teaching is the most thankless job in america. And your view is a prime example as to why….

          • Buckingham Beauty

            Summers?, I think you must not know any teachers. All the teachers I know work well past 3:00 p.m., for one thing. After those kids go home, they still have a lot of work to do in terms of grading, prep for future classes, cleaning and decorating their classrooms, calling parents about struggling students’ progress or lack thereof, meetings with the principal, etc. And many of them work second jobs in the summer, teach summer school, or attend summer classes themselves for recertification requirements or to work on masters’ degrees. Don’t think for a minute they sip mai thais with their feet in the sand all summer long.

          • Freddy Shoop

            Tell me about it Buckingham Beauty. I was supposed to be on a beach in Hawaii sipping mai thais with my hot young girlfriend Kim and my awesome dog Wonder Mutt for the summer. That was all until that stick in the mud Vice Principal Gills made me teach remedial English during summer school, Kim went to Hawaii without me and all kinds of chaos ensued from there. Definitely not what Summers? thinks of our lives at all.

          • drax

            Teachers wear jeans every day?

          • CMG

            Summers? comment makes me want to scream. I’m on ARLnow right now taking a break from my work. I’m sitting at my desk at 6:50pm and I’ve been here working since 7:06 this morning. I didn’t get to have lunch today because I had an IAT meeting. I’ve been doing grading and prep since my kids left. And I am most certainly not wearing jeans–it’s prohibited at my school. Summers?, before you comment about the field of teaching, I suggest you meet a teacher.

      • Louise

        Because at 5am, when Murphy had to make the decision, the roads were still predicted to be icy at 9am–the time middle school students are on their buses when there’s a two hour delay.

        • MissKittenCat

          Middle school starts at 7am meaning they get ready and leave for school between 5:30-6:40.

          • kate

            Huh? My kid is in middle school in Arlington and gets up at 7:15. She has to be there at 7:40ish. I’m sure others get up earlier, but 5:30?

          • Louise

            Middle schools start at 7:50 (not 7). The buses arrive around 7:30 so kids have time to eat breakfast.

          • McChipstah

            It’s the county-wide programs that have an earlier bus schedule. My daughter attended Kenmore although we live in the Williamsburg neighborhood. Her bus picked her up at 7:06am.

          • kate

            yeah, so school couldn’t really have started at 7, if her bus picked her up at 7:06, I’m assuming 🙂

  • CrystalMikey

    I miss impromptu “snow” days…

  • JamesE

    I drove to work just fine, insert complaint here.

  • Ahhlington

    This is absurd.

  • nom de guerre

    It’s complicated.

    • speonjosh

      “It’s more complicated THAN THAT.”

  • APS Teach

    I think Dr.M made the right call. He takes everything into consideration .. Students, teachers, transportation.

    • other side of the river

      Well, there’s a first time for everything.

  • Scarlet Knight

    The rash of closures, delayed openings, early closings, etc, at the slightest hint of inclement weather are absurd. I don’t doubt that bad weather slightly increases the risk of accidents. And, that includes normal or heavy rain, sunglare, fog, etc. But, life and work needs to go on unless roads are truly impassable.

  • NorthArlingtonian

    APS made the right call. Half an hour ago I saw three people fall on the ice on the sidewalk. Imagine if these were your children.

  • BFD

    What’s the big deal? Aren’t a certain number of snow days built into the school year? APS hasn’t used any yet, so better to be safe. Loudoun county schools were also closed.

    • Ray

      Actually they used 2 “snow” days earlier this year for Hurricane Sandy.

  • Rebecky

    So the call was made at 5 AM – why not call 2 hour delay and then revise to closed if need be? Arlington used to be one of the last schools to delay/close – now it seems we are the first. Really – Loudoun and Fauquier are the only other schools that are closed today. This is a total joke. Delays/closures in APS have increased dramatically in the past couple of years. Someone needs to look into this.

    • BBMS

      I remember days like that when I was going to school. First, one-hour delay, then they would extend it to two, and eventually sometimes just announce that we were closed all day.

      They obviously made the wrong call today.

      • ArlSouth

        “Someone needs to look into this.” What does this mean? What are we looking into, the fact that APS has more student days than other school districts in the DC Metro area? What are we going to find – that the students and teachers have gotten together with the higher ups to pull one over on the tax payers to call off at the slightest bit of snow?

        Someone should really look into that Winter 2010, the students barely went to school that year!

        You say “look into this” when you think money has been spent unwisely or contracts awarded unfairly. Not when you just feel like the school system has off “more than they used to.”

        • Rebecky

          I say “look into this” in that there has obviously been a change in policy as far as what constitutes a requirements for a delay or closure. The APS calendar is enough of a burden on working parents as it is (see: last Tuesday). I do not mind making alternative arrangements for childcare on days when there is a legitimate safety risk, but cold rain is not one of those conditions.

          • Louise

            School does not exist as an alternative to child care. Last Tuesday was a day for teachers to work on completing report cards. I’m proud to work for a system that puts our students’ safety first (and also realizes the time and effort that goes into completing report cards).

          • Buckingham Beauty

            Cold rain, no, but freezing rain, yes.

          • CMG

            Regarding “last Tuesday:” I wish you had a clue how much work goes into report cards from a teacher’s end. I worked a 14 hour day on that Tuesday and I only have 24 students.

    • kate

      That’s really the issue, in my mind. There was no reason to not go with the 2 hour delay FIRST, and then make the call whether to close or not once there was more information about road/sidewalk conditions. I haven’t been outside yet, but I hear the sidewalks are pretty icy, so maybe closing was the right call. However, I don’t think it was the right call at 5 am. Delay first, then close if necessary.

      • BluemontFred

        Try recalling buses, and some with students on them, if they changed from a delay to close. It would be a cluster. Along the same lines…Loudoun did that this morning. They announced a delay and then cancelled

        • kate

          what time does the earliest bus pick up a child? I’m assuming somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 am? Not 5 am. So a 2 hour delay would mean buses start around 9am. So, delay at 5 and then make the call at 7. No one is on buses yet, right?

          • ArlSouth

            I agree, this method of delay then close would probably produce the maximum amount of “right” decisions based on the weather.

            But, I have to think there’s some wheels that are set in motion for a 2 hour delay (non-essential employees, bus drivers, hourly workers) that don’t work on a closure. Add in the idea of opening/delaying/not opening the offices.

            As a working parent, it would be difficult arranging for someone else to take my kids to school or going late to work and then realizing 2 hours later, you and your kids were home for the day or you had to arrange for child care all day. I understand parenting is all about adjustments and schedule changes but that’s a bit much.

            While 5am decisions are definitely not ideal, they do limit the headaches. For better or worse, at least people know what they’re getting.

          • Mom

            Kate…Were you a parent affected by this closing?

  • novasteve

    My walk to courthouse metro was very slippery. I can honestly say that closing schools wasn’t some huge catastrophe.

    • dk (not DK)

      Novasteve, the voice of reason! 🙂

    • Hank

      Dear God, Novasteve and I are on the same page! There is common ground on Arlnow. And that ground is frozen.

  • MissKittenCat

    No child, teenager, teacher, staff needs to slip in some ice and get hurt. APS has only used 2 snow days this school year. Hopefuly next month doesn’t bring any more snow. Yes a bit of a fail but at least no one will slip in the ice. APS Students the enjoy the day off.

    • kate

      But it’s ok for the rest of the general public to do so? Oh, and all the students in DC, Alexandria, Montgomery County, etc? I mean, I get what you’re saying, but man, our society is becoming WEAK when they close schools for a little ice on a sidewalk. I hope no one from Arlington grows up and moves north. They will never go to work in the winter! People actually have to leave their houses in snow and ice every day for months in the winter!

      • ArlSouth

        No, Kate, the general public make decisions for themselves. You alone are responsible for your safety. On the other hand, the school system IS responsible for the safety of their staff and students.

        I lived and worked as a teacher in the Northeast and no parent in the Northeast threatened to sue the district over the smallest thing. No student ever said to me “Do you know who my mom works for?” And I never overheard a citizen telling someone they pay taxes here so they should have access to the facilities 24 hours a day. This area is different than the “North” in a lot of ways, thanks for reminding us.

        • kate

          right, but only the Arl Co. school district? Not Alexandria or DC?

          I’m from the Northeast. I get what you are saying, believe me. I guess it just frustrates me b/c I wish our Arl. County people were a bit more like our Northeast friends.

          • JFlacco

            You mean obnoxious Patriots fans?

      • drax

        If they move north, they’ll be in cities where it’s worth spending millions on equipment that can handle ice and snow.

        • kate

          or 5 bucks on some ice melt.

  • Postitive

    A two-hour delay would only put most school openings in the midst of the freezing rain, black ice, and slick sidewalks as the temperature was supposed to rise around 10 AM.

    I used to live in a cold, mid-western state with high snow totals and they never canceled school, but they should have. The accidents were extreme and even great infrastructure can’t keep up with so many roads and people. So I’d rather live in Arlington where safety, not prowess or your wife’s doctor’s appointment, is taken in to consideration.

    Also, Arlington Public School teachers are the most dedicated around and would drive from wherever to get to work. Teachers consider your children’s safety all the time, so please consider their safety and that of their children. But don’t think for a minute that the Superintendent considers teachers in any decision he makes, let alone school closures.

    Have fun and enjoy your snow day with your children. We teachers sincerely enjoy your kids everyday.

    • Buckingham Beauty

      I grew up in the Midwest, and we never canceled for snow, but they always canceled school for ice. It only takes a little patch of ice a fraction of an inch thick for a bus full of kids to slide off the road and into a ditch or something. So I’m happy when they cancel school here, even if some take it as a challenge to their manliness or what not.

      • drax

        Buck Beauty, this is the best post on this thread.

        • Hee-Haw

          It must be so, if you say so.

    • kate

      No, a 2 hour delay would have allowed the administrators to actually assess whether or not that was the case. And if so, they could have closed. I think they would have gotten FAR less grief if they did that.

      • Rankin

        Seems like nearly all the grief they’re getting is from you.

  • JimPB

    I’ve lived with school age children in Iowa and in upstate New York. I don’t remember delays and shut downs there due to weather. But, there was the abundant equipment for clearing roads (in upstate New York, the snow plow went through our residential street every 15-30 minutes until the snow fall stopped and the road was clear), there was far less vehicular traffic and drivers drove slower and with much more care. Here, far less road care equipment, a road choking number of vehicles and too many drivers drive too fast and without care — and violate safety laws in volume, e.g., the small school bus fleet of the City of Falls Church conducted a 3-day test monitoring in November on the number of drivers who drove past stopped school busses with red lights flashing for loading or unloading children. Not one or two violators. Not a dozen. Not a couple score. But an average of 65 violators/day. Unfortunately, this is consistent with appalling numbers of such violations that other area school systems have documented. So, as a essential first step toward reducing delayed openings, early dismissals and whole day closings because of the weather, bring the drivers here to heel for safe, lawful driving.

  • Hank

    I work for APS, have a kid in school, and was really surprised by the closing… surprised enough because it didn’t occur to me that school would be closed and I took my daughter to school to discover it was closed. But, I think this was a good call. It is slippery and we have tons of walkers. Now I’ll await some Crotchety Pete say, “These kids today are pansies and if a five year-old slips, it’s her fault. Bah nanny state! I have to go to work, so should everyone else!”

    • Old Fellow

      I had to dodge arrows and tomahawks on my way to school, so a little bit of rain should not stop anyone.

  • DCBuff

    The full close was a bad call. Alexandria had a 2 hour delay. The Federal Gov’t a late start. APS could have chosen one of these alternatives, and that would have been correct.

    • Rebecky


  • Ballston

    As there are about 3 people on my floor at work right now, everyone complaining about teachers being lazy and getting an undeserved day off is full of it. We all know that every time OPM gives govt workers the option to telework a huge portion of the workforce does it. Teachers have a tough job, good for them for getting the day off.

    • Hank

      Yeah, like it’s up to the teachers when school is cancelled. In a lot of respects, I think it’s kind of a pain for teachers in the long run.

  • Sarah

    Stay-at-home moms: 1
    Working moms: 0

    • arlmom

      WAH moms: +100

    • arlmom

      Work-at-home moms: +100

    • arlingtongal

      My husband is at home with our daughter because that’s also possible.

  • dk (not DK)

    It’s a scandal! It’s a outrage!

  • Rory



  • Mom

    If APS opened on time or had a delay, we would STILL get people complaining on here. You can’t please everyone. Take the time to enjoy your kids. It was your decision to have them. I value every moment I can with mine.

    • CrystalMikey

      Well said Mom!

  • Sha

    I was up at 4:30 this morning and it was icy on the sidewalks and streets. Conditions started changing for the better around 6:00 or so; at least at my house. By 7:30 there was no ice at all; just wet roads. It’s a tough call to make so early in the morning. It could have gone the other way if temperatures had remained just a few degrees colder. Ice is a whole different ballgame from snow. I think when ice is involved, it is better to be overly cautious.

    • Observer

      Of course, all forecasts and updates I heard was that after 10-12 everything would be over and temps would be well above freezing. Morning might have been dicey, but afternoon was by all reports going to be OK. Surprised they closed all day.

  • callie

    The Chicken Little mentality is alive and well in Arlington. I pay taxes for this? Good grief.

  • atozwriter

    The sidewalks were terrible at 7 when I was out walking the dog even though the roads were fine. And my walk was still icy at 11:30 when I headed in to work, very happy that I was on the road rather than the sidewalk. I can just imagine all the kids falling over like bowling pins. APS made the right call. Weird but true.

  • Mchipstah

    Ugh…another day of supervising my 15 year old who has her boyfriend over here ALL DAY LONG! I just finished a weekend of their constant canoodling and now this! Come on APS! Think of our bored teens! Idle brains are the devil’s workhouses-keep ’em in school. As far as kids slipping on the sidewalk…seriously, that’s the excuse now?

    • Buckingham Beauty

      You can’t send the boyfriend home?? Who’s the parent?

  • Sha

    Maybe you could put some Lawrence Welk music on really loud all over the house. That should get rid of the boyfriend pretty quickly.

  • contractor

    Hey guys

  • Be Thankful

    Be thankful I don’t get the complainers…some of you guys whining because you have to take an unscheduled day off to spend with your own offspring. You are fortunate to be able to live in Arlington and have the “burden” of having both spouses work while raising kids.

    Of course I was surprised as well by the closing…I still had to get to work on time and when I awoke around 7:35am in Alexandria it was fine…however there are SO MANY factors that go into the logistics of this decision.

    Easy to say in hindsight (and considering that no other jurisdictions closed) that APS should have only enacted a 2 hr. delay, but I immediately realized 2 things: 1. Fairfax County Public Schools were already closed for students that day (teacher work day I think). They usually lead the charge, and maybe they would have closed as well. In my opinion, APS has waited to follow FFX’s lead (probably because Superintendant came from FCPS) to avoid this kind of scenario. Also, the asst. superintendant in charge of transportation just retired so that probably put a lot of the decision on the Superintendant and others who weren’t used to making it.

    Conclusion: call it a learning experience or stupidity or whatever you want, but don’t act like it’s the end of the world!


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