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Arlington school system has winter-weather plan in place

Students would revert to online learning once 2 weeks are lost

Should a particularly rough winter cost the Arlington school system two weeks or more of instructional time, the school system will revert to online learning rather than extend the school year or cut into spring break.

State law requires school systems to provide a minimum 990 hours of instruction in a school year. Superintendent Francisco Durán on Nov. 9 told School Board members that the 2023-24 calendar has the equivalent of 13 days built in that could be lost to inclement weather.

“That’s quit a bit, but we never know,” he said, pointing to a wide divergence in winter forecasts for the local region.

Should the 13 days be gobbled up, students would transition to online classes and learn from their homes until weather conditions improve. Planning for such an eventually would begin in earnest if a large number of days begin to be lost to Mother Nature’s wrath.

Durán told School Board members it was his goal to make calls on school closings by 6 p.m. the previous evening, but if forecasts are tricky, the decision could be made as late at 6 a.m. the day of class.

“We aim for the night before – we will make every effort,” he said.

You know you’re a longtime Arlingtonian if you remember the days when a succession of superintendents proved to be hard-nosed about snow days. Often, Arlington would stay open when other suburban districts closed up.

But during the tenure of Superintendent Patrick Murphy, a surprisingly intense morning snow-and-ice storm helped cripple transportation on a day school were kept open, and mayhem resulted. Ever since then, Arlington school leaders seem to have erred on the side of closing down.