The record breaking winter temperatures have impacted schools all over the state, resulting in closures, heating system outages, and unsafe conditions across all counties.
In Baltimore, problems with the heating system combined with the below freezing temperatures left students learning in classrooms as cold as 40 degrees. One child even reported he had frostbite after coming home from school. In early January, some Baltimore schools such as Calverton Elementary and Middle School were forced to close because of the frigid conditions.
Angered parents started petitions and protests against the Baltimore County school board, accusing them of ignoring the conditions their children were facing in 60 different schools. In response, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has pledged $2.5 million to address the heating issues. As of February 2, some schools continue to close their doors as more problems arise.
This winter MCPS has been forced to close for two full days of instruction due to emergency weather conditions. The school year incorporates two snow days into its calendar. However, if there are more closures the year will be extended into June 13 to accommodate, then into the first day of spring break.
Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Matt Post appeared on Eubie TV Monday morning to explain the snow day situation to the student population. As the season continues, with more cold weather and snowy days likely to follow, the chances of the school year needing to be extended appear to be growing higher and higher. However, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan still retains the power to excuse MCPS of any necessary make-up days, although that is usually only enacted in case of a snow emergency.
Prince George’s County was also inconvenienced by the winter weather as well. Water main breaks occurred along US 1 early in 2018 due to the low temperatures combined with old pipes. Traffic experienced heavy disruptions as a result of the snow and ensuing ice that contributed to dangerous road conditions.
It is these dangerous road conditions that have proven the most difficult aspect of this winter season for county and school officials. Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Loudoun County, and many other school systems were forced to declare two hour delays on Monday not due to heavy snow, but a downpour of freezing rain that made many roads, including some part of I-70 and the beltway, very difficult to drive through. The Washington Post reported a myriad of car accidents in and around the D.C. area, contributing to the region’s distress.
While there is no knowing what the rest of winter holds for this county, MCPS remains committed to the fulfillment of student’s curriculums through extended days and shortened breaks.