When a storm brings snow, ice, freezing rain, flooding or other hazardous conditions to Frederick County or an emergency situation occurs, care for safety may necessitate closing schools, dismissing early or opening them later than usual in the morning.
When the Decision Is Made
If weather conditions occur that make it obvious our schools will not be able to operate the following day, an announcement for the next day is sent out on the FCPS Rapid Communications System and is communicated to radio and television stations. If the situation is uncertain or a storm develops during the night, the decision is not made and announced until early the following morning. A decision for the county must be made no later than 5:30 a.m. in order for announcements to be made in a timely manner.
How the Decision Is Made
The assistant superintendent for administration, director of transportation and other transportation employees check weather and road conditions in different sections of the county. They also coordinate with the highway department, public safety officials and each other. In addition, school officials take a firsthand look by driving some county school-bus routes. The next step may involve checking with other school superintendents, particularly those in Winchester City, Clarke, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties. Finally, a recommendation from the assistant superintendent for administration and the director of transportation is presented to the superintendent, and a final decision is made.
Lines of Communication
After a decision to close school or delay opening is made, an announcement is sent out on the FCPS Rapid Communications System and is communicated to the radio and TV stations listed below:
Radio Station Call List
TV Station Call List
- WINC 92.5FM/1400AM
- WUSQ 102.5FM/WFQX 99.3FM
- WZRV 95.3FM/WFTR1450AM
- WKMZ 97.5FM/WEPM 1340AM
- WYII 95.9FM
- WRNR 740AM
- WSIG 96.9FM
- WBOP 106.3FM
- WFTX 610AM
- Cable Channel 18
- WHSV Harrisonburg
- Channel 25 Hagerstown
- Channel 99 (WAZT)
- Channel 4 (WRC-TV)
- Channel 5 (WTTG-TV)
- Channel 7(WJLA-ABC7)
- Channel 9 (WUSA TV9)
The decision will be broadcast shortly after the station is called. In addition, Frederick County Public Schools’ information line at (540) 722-6443 or (540) 662-3889, ext. 6, and Cable Channel 18 will have information on emergency school closings.
Frederick County Public Schools also utilizes a free e-mail service that will notify parents immediately of announced school closings or opening delays. Parents with the ability to receive e-mail may register, free of charge, at www.schoolsout.com
. In the event of school closings or cancellations, parents who subscribe to the service will receive an e-mail message sent to the address that they specify notifying them of schedule changes. This is a free service provided to the school division and control of the www.schoolsout.com
site rests with the non-profit group that sponsors the site.
Additionally, the information may be accessed by going to the Frederick County Public Schools website
and the Frederick County Schools Facebook page
It is important that parents and students not telephone the stations for information about school closings. Such efforts may block delivery of the very information the individual wishes to obtain by preventing a call from a school official with the announcement.
The one-hour delay schedule is employed when the weather situation is not sharply defined or when some roads are not clear and daylight will improve safety. A decision on this must also be made by 5:30 a.m. Use of the delay means that all schedules are moved one hour later. For example, a student who usually boards a school bus at 7:30 a.m. will be picked up at 8:30 a.m. Use of the delay allows schools to operate a full day if conditions significantly improve after 6:30 a.m. On occasion, if weather conditions worsen, schools will be closed and the announcement made before 7:30 a.m.
A two-hour delay may, at times, be announced. When this occurs, students will be picked up two hours later than usual, and no breakfast will be served at school.
A storm can develop or conditions become hazardous at anytime in the morning necessitating an early closing. If this occurs, the high schools will be dismissed at 12:00 p.m., middle schools at 12:15 p.m., and elementary schools at 1:00 p.m. When early dismissal is announced, parents may go to the schools and pick up their children. We ask your cooperation in parking to avoid dangerous situations for students and buses. During serious weather conditions, these times may be changed and announced on the identified communication channels.
Differing Road Conditions
The condition of relatively narrow secondary roads bears heavily on the decision to close schools as well as to reopen them. Sometimes patrons ask why schools are not in session after students have been out a day or two and roads in Winchester and the suburbs are clear. The decision for the entire school system is made in relation to the condition of all roads in Frederick County. Many times city and suburban streets are in good condition for travel, but some secondary roads remain icy and very dangerous.
Frederick County has approximately 650 miles of highways. This includes 26 miles of I-81, 101 miles of primary highways, and 523 miles of secondary roads, including 172 miles of unpaved roads. The heavily traveled routes (I-81, Rt. 37, and U.S. 11, 50, and 522) are always cleared prior to secondary roads.
Emergency Snow Routes
If icy conditions persist, it may be necessary to operate schools and have reduced bus routes. If this occurs, the radio announcement will state that buses will operate on the emergency snow routes
. Parents on roads where buses will not operate should get their children to the location designated on the emergency snow routes until the bus can resume its regular route. This information will be sent to parents living on the emergency snow routes.
Bad Weather Days in School Calendar
The School Board reserves the right to change the calendar in relation to holiday observance and make-up days. Seven (7) inclement weather days are built into the 2016-17 school calendar. The first five days missed are made up one for one. If more than five teaching days are missed, one day will be made up for each two days missed in excess of 5 and up to 9 make-up days. Fourteen or more teaching days missed will require subsequent school board action to adjust the school calendar.
Concern for Safety
Any decision about closing schools is made with safety of the students as the primary concern.