The Man Behind the Call

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The Man Behind the Call

Public Information Officer Wayde Byard has become a local snow-day celebrity

This year’s Winter season has already brought around 15.4 inches of snow to the DC area and Northern Virginia. With more snow on the way, Loudoun County Public Schools is faced with a waves of school cancellations; impacting approximately 79,200 students county wide. While school delays and cancellations require a intricate process, and large group of decision makers, one man in particular receives a lot of attention from the county: Wayde Byard. Byard, a long standing public information officer for LCPS, has become a local celebrity among students and teachers across the county, who all anxiously await his call when the threat of impending weather looms.

Before taking the position as the public information officer for the county in 2000, Byard achieved a bachelor’s degree in English, as well as a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri. After 20 years as a reporter and editor for the Columbia Missourian, Winchester Star, and Columbia Daily Tribune, Byard transitioned into his current role within the LCPS administration, and has not looked back since.

Unpredictable work schedules have become a normality for Byard as he continues his career with the county. Leaving for work at 7:30, Byard may not end his day until midnight due to work priorities. “During the day, I help principals with messages to the community, answer or direct about 200 emails, research and write press releases, attend school events, work with the media and take 10 or 15 phone calls,” said Byard. Bettering the communication barrier between school administrators and the community has become a daily goal for him, and his passion for his work does not go unnoticed by the public.

With winter weather threatening Loudoun County with extreme cold fronts and heavy snow, communicating the status of each school day to the public has become a necessity for the LCPS administrative offices. “We have more than 30 messages for different scenarios that we tape during the summer,” said Byard. These calls cover the basic winter advisories and scenarios the County may face. Specialized messages to the public are recorded by Byard and his assistant, then sent out the morning the statement was ordered.

Byard’s popularity within the students of LCPS has become a staple for the county during the winter months. Students create images and memes featuring his face and his phone calls to express their desire for snow days. “My first reaction [to the memes] is that people have too much technical knowledge and time on their hands. I’m generally amused by them,” said Byard. Byard has a few favorite memes, but chooses to keep them a secret, and thank everyone who makes them.

The support from students across the country has made the job much more rewarding for Byard as the years go on, yet he remains “befuddled” on his local celebrity status. “Raise your standards,” said Byard, “The people who teach you every day are the ones you should adore, not me. I don’t mind people taking selfies with me, but it is a bit weird. Those photos could come back to haunt you one day.”

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