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Here's how DMV school systems decide to cancel or delay class for weather

Snow, ice and cold temperatures are all considered by officials, who may change their minds.

WASHINGTON — Children across the DMV can't wait to hear those two little words when a layer of snow covers the ground: "school's closed." Often times, if the snow is just a dusting, classes will be delayed a few hours.

Whenever bad weather is expected, transportation officials are out at 2:30 a.m. surveying road conditions and sending information back to schools to make that long anticipated call.

Each county looks at a variety of factors in determining whether to cancel class, issue a two-hour delay, end early or cancel after-school activities. All schools will cancel if traveling conditions are unsafe.

Here's a look at how school systems across the DMV said they decide whether or not they'll stay open during inclement weather.


  • A decision to cancel or delay class is made by 5 a.m.
  • In a last-minute weather decision, if school is closed, buses will arrive at the stops to let parents know school is closed. However, the school tries to make the decision before buses are dispatched.
  • During a two-hour delay, the morning bus route schedule is also delayed two hours and field trips are canceled.
  • When school dismisses two hours early, the decision is normally announced at 11:30 a.m.


  • The decision to cancel or delay class is made by 5:30 a.m.
  • In determining to cancel school, officials look at conditions in neighboring counties, check the status of the school building and facilities, check with Alexandria's Director of Transportation and are out surveying conditions for buses, streets, school parking lots, bus stops and walkers.
  • When school dismisses early, the school system aims to make the announcement at 11 a.m.

District of Columbia:

  • A decision to cancel or delay class is made by 5 a.m.
  • In determining to cancel school, officials look at the temperature, wind chill, levels of snow and ice, road conditions, availability of public transportation and how these conditions are forecasted to develop over the course of the day.
  • A delay doesn't count as a snow day and doesn't need to be made up later in the year.
  • Schools will individually decide during a delay whether they will serve breakfast. However the school system will determine which schools students will go to in different wards for breakfast.
  • If school is closed early, students will be served lunch before dismissal.
  • The Mayor decides whether schools are open, delayed or closed. The decision to cancel any extended day, after-school activity or athletic event comes from the Chancellor.


  • A decision to cancel or delay class is made by 5 a.m.
  • The decision is generally made the night before by looking at a variety of factors, with student safety as the top priority.


  • County staff is out surveying county roads by 3:30 a.m. and report back to the Chief Operating Officer on whether buses and walkers can get around safely. They look at weather forecasts, talk with county staff and look at building and parking lot conditions. The Chief Operating Officer calls the superintendent before 5 a.m. with a recommendation to delay or close schools. The superintendent makes the final call.
  • Decision to cancel or delay class is made by 5 a.m.
  • Decision for early closing is made by 10 a.m.
  • When schools close two hours early, lunches are served. When schools are closed three days in a row FCPS will serve free hot meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., if buildings are accessible to staff. Here are the sites that offer free lunches on the third consecutive snow day.


  • Parents will be notified if school is canceled or delayed by 6 a.m.
  • Crews are out on county roads at 2 a.m. checking road conditions and analyzing several weather models.
  • The Loudoun County Public Schools superintendent will determine when schools and administrative offices observe a delayed opening, closing or early release in emergency situations, based upon the recommendation from the assistant superintendent for support services.

Montgomery: (last updated in 2018)

  • Decision to cancel or delay is class made by 5 a.m
  • Decision for early closing is made by 11 a.m.
  • MCPS's Department of Transportation sends crews to go out and survey roads at 3:00 a.m. They check roads and sidewalks and consult with neighboring counties. By 4:15 a.m. the Department of Transportation sends a recommendation to the chief operating officer. They must take into the geography of all 500 sq. miles of the county.
  • When deciding between a delayed start and a full snow day, MCPS must consider whether two hours will make a difference in weather conditions.

Prince George's:

  • Decision to cancel or delay class (school) will be made prior to 5:30 a.m. It is the school's goal to make this decision as early as possible.
  • Decision for early closing is made by 10:15 a.m.
  • Breakfast and lunch will be provided when there is a two-hour delay or early closing.
  • PGCPS will remain open as long as roads are safe and passable, while monitoring weather forecasts, National Weather Service reports, input from the Prince George's County Department of Public Works and Transportation and Prince George's County Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Prince William:

  • Decision to cancel or delay is class made by 4:30 a.m.
  • PWCS reviews information from emergency management, meteorologists and state highway administrators about road conditions, and school personnel inspect the roads, sidewalks, parking lots and bus lanes. Because PWCS covers 350 sq. miles, closings may occur when conditions might not seem particularly bad in your area.

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