Time for JDS to follow MCPS weather policy

Daphne Kaplan, In-Depth and Design Editor

Rolling over and checking my phone one icy morning on the second day of inclement weather, I refreshed my email to see a what I took as a passive-aggressive email in my inbox stating, “CESJDS to Remain on Two-Hour Delay.” Within seconds of reading that email, I was inundated with texts of frustration, disappointment and anger, perhaps solely because MCPS granted a day off. Despite it being slippery, I was fortunately able to drive off my street that morning, but I know some who were not able to make it to school that day.

This past month, our area was plagued with frigid and inclement weather, leaving school administrators with a big decision: was it too dangerous for students to arrive safely at school? Throughout that week, JDS students consistently refresh the MocoSnow Twitter Page, checking the hourly weather alerts and hoping for days off, delays or early dismissals from school. But because JDS doesn’t follow MCPS after the first day of a snow closure, they were repeatedly disappointed.

Head of School Rabbi Mitchel Malkus received criticism about not canceling or delaying school. Many asked why JDS is not entirely an independent school. According to Malkus, following MCPS is beneficial because as part of a local government, they consult directly with the National Weather Service. MCPS additionally has numerous people travel and report road conditions in different parts of the county when anticipating snow, unlike JDS who has people drive around Rockville and Bethesda.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think we would want to go completely independent because we have to make decisions in the overall interest of our community,” Malkus said. “We know that no matter what decision we make, some people will be upset and some people will be happy about it, so we are doing the best we can.”

While I agree with Malkus that he needs to make the decision on behalf of the majority of the school, there are individuals who live farther from school and it is more difficult for them to drive to school. This is especially true if those students have other siblings who attend other schools. There are also many student drivers who are not comfortable driving in snowy or icy conditions, but who may not be able to get a ride from a working parent.

Junior Naomi Jaray was one student who faced icy conditions on the aforementioned two hour delay day. With such inclement weather and a long trip to school, Jaray missed an entire day of school, leading her to fall behind in a few classes. In order to ensure that no other students miss school at the expense of icy conditions, Jaray believes that following MCPS’ policies for both days would be beneficial for individuals near and far.

It is no secret that MCPS closes school when they might not need to and might close for precautionary reasons, but JDS does not close or delay nearly enough. Even though MCPS has had more closures than JDS and covers more areas of the county than JDS does, it is vital that JDS does account and take precautionary measures to ensure that all students and faculty can arrive safely to school, without the expense of missing classes, or school entirely, due to inclement weather.

MCPS accommodates for the needs of all of their faculty and students, and they have the resources to make the best judgment about travel safety. JDS should follow their lead.

This story was featured in the Volume 36, Issue 5 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on March 15, 2019.