The 'Snow Day' tweets students have learned to follow

FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- With snow on the way, kids across the area are probably hoping for just one more snow day on Tuesday.

But if you live in one school district, we are going to show you how to find out before anyone else.

This all began when a school board member in Fairfax County started a Twitter account to keep connected with his constituents. His goal, he says, was always to get parents and students interested in district affairs and involved. He just never imagined how attentive to his messages they would become.

For nights like this, 28 year-old Ryan McElveen is the man to follow.

"It's been pretty amazing how kids have reacted," McElveen told WUSA9 Monday.

McElveen, a first-term board member, is a prolific user of social media. When his district closes school for a snow day, his tweet usually breaks the news, minutes before the district itself posts word of the closure.

He had just 170 followers in December before he started tweeting about the snow closures; eleven snow days later, he has more than 22,800.

McElveen's last snow day tweet, on March 16th, got more than 2,600 retweets and was favorited more than 2,100 times.

"It is surprising," McElveen reflected in an interview, "But I can think back to when I was a student and it was very important to be one of the first to hear about when school was going to be cancelled."

When asked if anyone does not appreciate his quickness with a tweet, McElveen replied, "There are always people who will complain that I'm getting the message out before the system has time to get it out. And that's understandable. But I'm doing what I think my job is as a public servant - and that is to get information out as soon as possible."

One parent told WUSA9, "My daughter would always get the news from his tweet 5 or 10 minutes before we would get the email notification - and she would start screaming up in her room. After the first few times we figured out what the screaming meant."

As a school board member, McElveen is not the one who decides whether to close school - that's the district administrators' job.

No word yet on Tuesday's school status, but follow @RyanLMcElveen and you will know before just about everybody.


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