‘Not an easy decision:’ Lubbock ISD explains process for canceling or delaying school for bad weather
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - With another First Alert Weather Day in the forecast because of icy conditions, a number of smaller school districts in outlying counties have already made the decision to delay or cancel classes Tuesday. The larger districts in and around Lubbock are expected to make that call early in the morning.
Delaying or canceling school because of bad weather is not an easy decision to make for any district. Erin Gregg, Executive Director of Communications and Community Relations for Lubbock ISD, says a lot goes into students getting a ‘snow day.’
“We know our parents and guardians are relying on us to provide a safe learning environment where children are getting meals and other important support services. So, it’s not an easy decision,” Gregg said.
While it can be challenging to make the final call, Gregg says the decision comes after hours of monitoring conditions. Administrators monitor the City of Lubbock’s Emergency Operations Center, the call loads for Lubbock Police and Lubbock Fire Rescue, and briefings from the National Weather Service. On top of that, she says a team of administrators drives around different areas of the city, testing roads and overpasses. The team comes back together at 5 a.m. to discuss the conditions.
“We’re not just looking at the weather sitting in an office somewhere, making decisions. We really are sending our own employees out to test and ensure that we get great feedback on what the road conditions are,” she said.
Gregg says the decision to delay or cancel school is about more than just roads, though, since more than 70% of Lubbock ISD’s students come from a low socioeconomic background,
“We know that school is an important place for families to make sure their kids are fed breakfast and a lot of other important support services they’re receiving, and so we know it’s a challenge,” she said. “Sometimes if we’re able, we even make the notification on the night before. If we feel like there’s enough evidence that we can go ahead and make a call, then we’ll do that because we know it’s easier to make a plan the night before than it is the morning of.”
Of course, school districts must also consider state minute regulations when deciding whether or not to give students and teachers a bad weather day.
“The great thing is in the way we write our academic calendar, we usually have some banked minutes, and so for example, last week when we canceled, we’re not going to have to make that day up,” Gregg said.
While the Lubbock area superintendents communicate with each other for bad weather decisions, Gregg says sometimes the decisions don’t match up because each district is unique.
“We’re all a little different. Cooper is, you know, a significant part of their attendance zone is more rural than the city of Lubbock. So, you have to consider there are dirt roads and other things that can be a hazard,” Gregg said. “I know, for example, Frenship did just buses only on pavement. So, they’re making decisions too that are the best for the families that are in their attendance zone and we’re doing the same thing. We try to work together in those decisions and most of the time they align.”
Gregg says while Lubbock ISD has the technological capability for students to attend school from home, it doesn’t plan to do that this year.
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