Christmas came early for Fairfax County students who were granted a full week off thanks to an extended snow break followed by consecutive teacher workdays. After three consecutive snow days, Fairfax students will stay home for another two days Monday and Tuesday, which already have been scheduled for teacher planning. And it's not sitting well with some parents.
Whether it was cabin fever talking or the furious scrambling for a baby sitter, parents flooded message boards and officials' phone lines with questions about why schools closed -- they pointed to the cleared major roadways and government employees returning to work.
"If you're a parent who works, this really is disruptive," said Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay, D-Lee. "It's a very long period of time off. But if one kid slips and falls and gets hurt, then everyone asks why you opened the schools. No matter what you do, you can't win."
A few thousand county residents had no power as late as Friday evening, a full 48 hours after the brunt of the snowstorm.
However, Fairfax students' charmed luck will run out in a few weeks. They will be forced to go to class on President's Day, Feb. 21, as the school system already burned through the extra days reserved for inclement weather.
School officials defended the prolonged closure, saying it was best to be overly cautious.
"We have a huge school system, and the safety of the kids is paramount," said school board member Jane Strauss. "You have to worry about the kids walking to school and ensure the side streets are sufficiently cleared for buses and the kids waiting on the corner."
Others said favorable road conditions were not enough for classes to resume.
"It would have been an absolute disaster had they been in school," said Supervisor John Foust, D-Dranesville. "You have to focus on the safety of the kids. Although the roads have been plowed, not all the sidewalks have been shoveled."
County schools spokesman Paul Regnier said the looming teacher workdays played no part in the decision to remain closed.
And parents beware: More snow is in the forecast next week.