The Great Cancellations of 2014

By Hailey Dunster.

The brutal winter of northern Virginia had caused a total of 14 Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) cancellations. Below freezing temperatures and high amounts of snow accumulation have led to the school closings and the cancelation of this year’s mid-term exams.

14 of the 15 LCPS built-in snow days have been used during the 2013-2014 school year as of March 17th. The snow days that have been used this school year have affected students and teachers both positively and negatively. The number of built-in snow days in LCPS is greater than the amount in other counties.

Loudoun County uses the built-in snow days to help avoid Saturday classes, longer school days, and changes in the graduation dates.  Virginia requires schools to have 990 instructional hours of school each year or 180, five and a half hour days. LCPS has a minimum of 180, six hour school days. The extra half an hour than required helps to eliminate the need for additional school days.

Due to 14 snow days, the curriculum has been altered to accommodate less time before SOL’s and finals. Social studies teacher Samantha Zoller said, “Missing three weeks of school has made it difficult to cover the entire curriculum.”

Math teacher Jeff Schutte had to remove many of the enrichment activities that made teaching and learning lessons more fun.  Though the curriculum is being covered in the shortened time, students may be missing out on the exciting elements that make learning interesting.

The work-load of classes has increased in an attempt to cover lessons before state testing this spring. Junior Kaitlin Murphy said, “Teachers give out snow day assignments, which are a lot of work.” Meanwhile, freshman, Maddy Fontaine, said, “The snow days have made me prone to procrastination.” Snow days create the idea of more time, which helps escalate procrastination.

The snow days have not only affected work-load and curriculum, but also the grades of some students. “My grades have been impacted,” said Fontaine. Other students, like freshman Puneet Kaur said that their grades haven’t changed.

This winter’s snow days proved to be both beneficial and detrimental for Woodgrove students. “I think the snow days were detrimental because teachers are rushing through lessons and piling on the homework,” said Murphy. The snow days have caused teachers to cover topics less thoroughly and more quickly which causes difficulty in understanding those topics completely.

Mr. Schutte said, “The snow days were beneficial to the student and staff morale. It helped with nerves and it is more relaxing than a school day. They were hurtful because it is difficult to get into a routine and plan. I’ve had to move an algebra test more than three times.” With the extra breaks, students don’t feel as overloaded with school.

LCPS’s large amounts of built-in snow days are helpful to withstand the addition of school days. Once the built-in snow days are used, LCPS will resort to other methods than that of an extended school year.