Dealing with snow used to be so easy. The kids would rejoice over an unexpected respite from homework, the shelves at the market would be empty, hardware stores were out of sleds and workout clothes lay unused on the chair. In the past, if Fairfax County Public Schools closed, Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) facilities were closed, too.
But no more! We heard your concerns loud and clear. We’ve listened to our customers, and we’re changing our ways. Beginning November 1, 2015 new procedures will be in place to deal with weather-related cancelations and closures this winter. Unless Fairfax County closes all county facilities, RECenters and other park facilities will remain open for general use. Classes, team practices, parties and even weddings will go on as planned at Park Authority facilities, unless canceled by the customer or FCPA.
The school system has a tough call to make. It’s a big county, and while your road might be clear, others may be slipping and sliding on roadways the snow plows have yet to find. Some days, the schools may struggle with arctic temperatures that are just too darn cold for kids to be standing at bus stops or for buses to start.
Getting in your workout or taking your kids to a tumbling class is not worth the risk if you live on a treacherous road. Our refund policy will remain flexible as we all figure out the best way to make this change. But if you’re lucky enough to see pavement and want to crank up the heat in your car, the Park Authority will be there for you with drop in fitness classes, warm pools and programs at as many park venues as practicable. Sure, there may be some glitches, some troubles getting the word out or cancelations beyond our control. We will deal them and work hard to improve those situations in the future.
Here’s what you need to know:
If Fairfax County Government is closed all day, Fairfax County Park Authority facilities are closed all day, too. Simple, right? That means FCPA classes, camps and events held at RECenters or other Park Authority facilities are canceled.
If Fairfax County Government opens late, things gets a little more complicated. The FCPA will announce opening times for its RECenters and other facilities on its website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/ and on the Inclement Weather Line at 703-324-8661. If you’re into social media, you can find out through Facebook and Twitter – and you can always give the facility itself a call. If you’re part of a swim team or other group that rents space from the FCPA, check with that organization to see what they’ve decided to do. There are lots of ways to get in the know about the snow!
When the county opens late, FCPA classes, camps and events held at RECenters or other FCPA facilities that begin before 11 a.m. will be canceled. Events that begin at 11 a.m. or later will operate as scheduled, unless announced otherwise. We have to allow to some leeway for special circumstances.
Let your youngsters dawdle over breakfast. When the county opens late, the morning preschool programs at Lee District and Spring Hill will operate from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Afternoon preschool will run from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., unless announced otherwise.
If storms move in during the day and Fairfax County Government closes early, FCPA facilities will close for the rest of the day, beginning at the announced time. That means everything grinds to a halt – classes, camps, evening activities and anything else planned for a RECenter or other FCPA facility starting at the announced time. Morning preschool at Lee District and Spring Hill won’t be affected, but afternoon preschool may be canceled, at the announced time.
Do you take Park Authority classes such as dance or martial arts at a studio? Now, what happens if you’re enrolled in an FCPA program that is held at a private business location? In that case, the best thing to do is to call that site directly or get in touch with your instructor.
If you signed up for a day trip or tour, you might still be in luck. FCPA-sponsored bus tours will operate as scheduled, unless you get a phone call telling you the trip is off. You also can check for weather cancelations or changes on the Trips and Tours Hotline at 703-324-TOUR (8687).
However, if you’ve registered for an FCPA class or event that takes place in a Fairfax County Public School building, you may need to spend more time with the family. Obviously, if a school is closed, we can’t let you in. Any event scheduled during a time that schools will be closed will be canceled. If schools open late, FCPA classes will resume at the school when it reopens.
You spoke up last year about your frustration with all the closures and cancelations, and we listened. We hope the new changes will allow more FCPA classes and events to take place as scheduled during the area’s fickle winter weather.
So this winter, keep a weather eye on the barometer, take a deep breath and join us as we make the changes that you – our valued customers asked for. And remember you can find out all the details at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/weather/ or 703-324-8661.