It's been a rough couple of days to be a Northern Virginia School Administrator (or, so I would guess). On Tuesday all hell broke loose when Fairfax and Arlington (among others) didn't close their schools. Both yesterday and today Fairfax and Arlington announced delays due to cold. And today, Fairfax turned their 2 hour delay into a full out cancellation. Tuesday's fiasco was large enough that it got Buzzfeed coverage.
The last few days have mostly been spent with various parties demanding and delivering apologies. It's not just the schools that are in on this game, meterologists and government workers chimed in, too.
While the tone of today's comments are generally positive towards Fairfax's choice to cancel school, it's still being couched in terms of whether or not the decision was effective.
I think something's missing from all this back and forth. It's something Arlington County, the Federal Government, your sketchy brother-in-law and your Scout Master have all been trying to tell you: unexpected stuff is going to happen, and when it does, it's up to *you* to be prepared to handle it.
Look, I love my government services. Public school buses that arrive on time; public roads treated for ice and cleared of snow; police ready to help a stranded motorist; sane instructions from schools and work officials. These are all good things. And most of the time, these services are in place. *But*, Tuesday's snow is a good reminder that it doesn't take much for the system to get shook up, mainly a few inches of snow falling on roads not ready for it, during rush hour. That's all it took and the city was in gridlock.
So take to Facebook and Twitter and vent. It's frustrating. And annoying. And by all means, push school administrators to do a better job (perhaps make the process more transparent? give bus operators a way to alert parents that the bus is going to be late? etc). But you should also use this opportunity to review your plan and prep.
Does your child know what to do if he's standing out in the cold waiting for a bus that doesn't come? Where should he go if you've already headed off to work? What happens when a 2 hour delay turns into a full blown snow day? Are you ready for a 4 hour commute in your car, or spending the night on the side of a highway? Probably not, and that's OK. But the time to take action is now. Look at these last few days and see if there's anything you could do to be ready for the next time the system goes off the rails. A little planning, a few strategic purchases, and you'll be in much better shape.
Looking for a place to start? Ready.gov has all the basics you'll need. Heck, they've got a commuter emergency plan, something I didn't even know existed. Luckily, my commuter plan consists of getting from my bed to the bathroom to my computer. Even on snow days, traffic tends to be light.