Message from Prince William County Schools on Weather-Related Closings

PWCS Clarifies 'Snow Day' Policies

Asynchronous Days Would Mainly Replace Delayed Openings


On Friday, the Superintendent provided guidance on weather procedures for this winter. The information below provides key things to remember and further clarify the new and existing weather procedures.

  1. Code Red days (existing) remain an option this year and beyond.
    • PWCS will continue to have Code Red days this school year and beyond when conditions warrant their use in severe weather emergencies that may impact access to remote work or learning, such as potential power outages.
    • Students will not be assigned required work on Code Red days, and teachers will take the missed time into consideration of deadlines or test scheduling.
    • Students may take advantage of a Code Red day to optionally catch-up on or for voluntary work on assignments already assigned.
    • All full-time employees are paid for Code Red days but are not required to work, except for inclement weather personnel.
  2. Code Orange (new) for employee workday/asynchronous learning this year.
    • PWCS has added a new code for days when weather may be marginal such as when road conditions are uncertain, or unsafe, for a limited period. Code Orange may also be used in lieu of days that in previous years were delayed openings. Due to the ongoing national shortage of bus drivers, PWCS continues to have a number of double and triple bus runs. These runs make it logistically impracticable to have delayed openings.
    • All full-time employees will be expected to work remotely. Inclement weather employees may report.
    • For the 2021-22 school year, students should use these days for asynchronous learning as an opportunity to complete work assigned and/or to receive support from their teacher during posted office hours. Schools will communicate office hours. This is similar to Mondays last school year.
    • Students will not be assigned new content on Code Orange days.
    • Student attendance will not be taken this school year on Code Orange days.
  3. Decision-making is county-wide.
    • The safety of our students and staff is our number one priority when making decisions.
    • PWCS reviews information from emergency management, meteorologists, and state highway administrators about road conditions, and school personnel also inspect the conditions of roads throughout the county, sidewalks, and parking lots and bus lanes. 
    • Decisions are made based on countywide conditions and weather forecasts to ensure the safety of all students, staff, and residents across more than 350 square miles, with significant elevation changes. 
    • This means closings may occur when conditions might not seem particularly bad in your immediate area.
    • Please get to know the weather codes we use in PWCS when changing operations due to weather.
  4. Decisions are communicated as rapidly as possible.
    • PWCS tries to make decisions on delays and closings as many hours in advance as possible, in consideration of families who need time to make proper arrangements.
    • In most cases the decision will be made the night before, or in uncertain conditions, not later than 4:30 a.m. on the morning of closing.
    • Once weather-related decisions are made, weather communications will then follow as rapidly as possible.
  5. Have a well-communicated plan in place.
    • In the event of early closing, which PWCS tries to avoid, children need to know where to go or what to do if a parent/guardian is not home.
    • Please ensure your contact information is updated in ParentVUE as schools rely on this information to ensure your child’s safety.
    • Do not bring children to school on Code Red or Code Orange days, staff will not be in the building.
  6. Stay informed.
    • Ensure your contact information is updated  in ParentVUE.
    • Due to the speed of updating, the official PWCS Twitter account (@pwcsnews) is generally the fastest mode of communication. Please be aware, due to the large volume of emails sent, there will likely be a delay between the Twitter posting and receipt of an email in your inbox.
    • Other communication channels will be updated as quickly as possible including email, text, My PWCS app, PWCS websites, PWCS-TV Channel 18 on Comcast and Channel 36 on Fios, other social media, and news stations.
  7. You make the ultimate decision.
    • As parents and guardians, if you feel conditions are unsafe and school is open, you have the option of not sending your child(ren) to school.
    • Students will receive an excused absence if the absence has been reported by their parent/guardian. 
    • Please report the absence to your child’s school and the reason for the absence. This is not necessary for Code Orange days this year.
    • Students will not be penalized academically but are expected to make up all assignments.
  8. For more on inclement weather decisions, procedures, and weather codes visit the PWCS website.


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