Children play in the snow after local schools closed because of a snowstorm, Feb. 13, 2014 in Alexandria, Va. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
One of the snowiest winters in years hasn't yet released its grip on the D.C. area, as snow days continue to pile up, threatening the start of summer vacations and snarling many students' academic schedules.
In response, D.C. Public Schools -- which have missed six days this winter -- have converted two half-days into full days and added another two days to their calendar.
Fauquier County, Va., tops the list of snowiest school districts, where students had their 17th snow day on St. Patrick's Day. School officials announced their latest makeup plan last week, which turns two early dismissal days into full days, carves a day off spring break, and extends the day for elementary school students by 10 minutes.
The Virginia school districts with the lowest number of days are Arlington and Falls Church, but even they're edging toward the double digits; both have missed nine days of school.
In Virginia, the law mandates a minimum of instructional hours rather than a certain number of days, so some school districts who have already formulated make-up plans may have to scramble to add even more time now that snow days have extended past mid-March.
Meanwhile, in Maryland, school districts can apply for waivers from the state to avoid making up the lost time, so some systems -- like Anne Arundel County -- have declined to formulate a makeup plan yet.
Montgomery County used its last allocated snow day back in January. Last week marked their first full week of school since the holidays, but Monday became their 10th snow day of the winter, and Prince George's County had their eighth. Both are planning to extend the school year if the state doesn't grant them waivers.
But the missing instructional time could put a crimp in students' attempts to prepare for Advanced Placement exams, which can help high school students to earn college credits.
"There's a going to be a rather intense attempt to catch up on all of those snow days," Richard French, an AP U.S. History teacher at Fairfax High School, told News4's David Culver last week.
With AP exams set by the College Board rather than the school districts, the test dates are looming despite the shortage of lesson time. The College Board, which administers the exams, said it may allow school to delay the tests.
"In response to inquiries from schools that lost instructional days due to weather-related closings, the College Board's AP Program has developed a policy that allows these schools -- depending on the total number of days lost -- to order alternate versions of the AP Exams and administer them on the late-testing dates," said Deborah Davis of the College Board in a statement.
The late-testing fee would be waived in these cases, Davis said.
In Prince George's County, officials are planning to discuss the possibility of pushing back their students' AP test dates, but have made no firm plans yet.
"They will be having a conversation with the AP coordinators upon our return [after Monday's snow day] to determine if an alternate testing date would be favored. As of right now, we are not planning on a testing delay," said Max A. Pugh Jr., acting communications officer for Prince George's County in an email.
A Montgomery County School spokesperson said they'll provide an update when school resumes, but weren't aware of any schools that have asked for the alternate exam date. "However, that could change," said the spokesperson.
News4 I-Team reporter Scott MacFarlane contributed to this report.