School building and parking lot with snow

When bad weather occurs, it may be necessary for Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) to cancel, delay, or close schools early. As winter approaches, below are some key things to remember:

  • 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.
  • Code Red days may still occur this year.

    PWCS will continue to have Code Red days this school year. To meet the length of the school term and core instruction state-required minimums, among other standards, PWCS must ensure that all our students have equitable access to instruction on days during which the school division is open for instruction. As PWCS cannot ensure such equitable access for all students on days with significant inclement weather affecting travel to schools and/or potentially causing outages of utilities required for virtual instruction, the need for Code Red days will continue when conditions warrant their use.

    • Students may use a Code Red day to optionally catch up on or work on assignments already assigned. Students may not be assigned required work on Code Red days and teachers will take the missed time into consideration of deadlines or test scheduling.
    • Teaching staff may voluntarily elect, but are not required, to employ "telework" or other work-at-home strategies to enter data, grade student papers, or otherwise supplement their normal work efforts (per Regulation 561-1, "Telework"). Time spent in this manner is strictly voluntary and shall not be counted against contract hours or otherwise compensated.
  • 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. Except in unusual circumstances demanding emergency measures, the decision will be made the night before, or not later than 4:30 a.m. on the morning of a closing or delay.
  • 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. Please report the absence to your child's school. They will not be penalized academically but are expected to make up all assignments.
  • Have a well-communicated plan in place. Children need to know where to go or what to do if a parent will not be home. Do not bring students to school early during a delayed opening as staff will not be in the building.

Know The Codes:

Please get to know the weather codes we use in PWCS when closing school or delaying the opening of school.

Stay Informed:

The official PWCS Twitter account @pwcsnews is generally the fastest mode of communication.

Other communication channels include:

  • PWCS Facebook
  • Alerts on the PWCS Homepage and each school webpage
  • Email and text messages sent to parents/guardians (using the contact information in The Hub)
  • Push notification to the My PWCS App
  • Posted on PWCS-TV (Channel 18 on Comcast and Channel 36 on Fios)
  • Area radio and television stations

How to Receive Inclement Weather Messages from PWCS:

PWCS Notifications (Automatic Enrollment)
Parents and guardians of students and employees of Prince William County Public Schools are automatically enrolled in the PWCS Notification messaging service.

PWCS central office and schools use this system to communicate delayed opening and school closing information, emergency messages, and to send attendance, lunch account balance, and school-based outreach messages. Messages are delivered using basic contact information provided by parents and employees.

It is important to keep emergency contact information up to date. Parents may request edits to their child's emergency contact information online through The Hub.