Thursday, March 23

North Texas schools begin to cancel classes, brace for winter storm

All Dallas and Cedar Hill ISD schools and administrative offices will be closed Thursday and Friday due to expected inclement weather, district officials announced Tuesday.

Garland schools and offices will also be closed Thursday due to the forecast. District officials will make a decision on school operations Friday at 4 p.m. Thursday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, DISD and Garland were the only North Texas districts to announce plans to cancel classes due to winter weather expected this week. However, several other districts have hinted that they are also preparing for the possibility of closed campuses.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for most of north and central Texas, starting Wednesday night through Thursday night. The weather forecast shows that rain is expected to start on Wednesday morning and possible snow on Thursday morning with sub-zero temperatures.

Dallas College announced the cancellation of in-person classes on Thursday and Friday. All online classes and virtual student services will continue as planned, the community college tweeted.

District officials across the region, as Highland Park ISD spokesman Jon Dahlander described it, are “watching the weather like everyone else,” waiting for forecasts to clear up before making tough decisions.

Bushes around the city show frostbite on their leaves as a winter storm brings snow and sub-zero temperatures to North Texas on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Dallas.  (Lola Gomez/The Dallas Morning News)

area officers families have been warned that the chances of ice and snow can affect schools and advised them to tune in to their respective district’s social media channels and websites for the latest information.

Mesquite school leaders, for example, he tweeted that they were monitoring the forecast. TThe district plans to notify families of closures or delays no later than 6 a.m.

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In Grand Prairie, any decision to close the school or modify the schedule involves multiple departments, spokesman Sam Buchmeyer said. The final decision to open, close or delay schools is made by 5 a.m. on the day, Buchmeyer added.

Coppell operations and maintenance staff begin weatherizing buildings if freeze advisories are in effect, spokeswoman Amanda Simpson said.

If winter weather occurs, “officials assess weather conditions, road conditions, sidewalks around our campuses and drive on highways, if possible, early that morning to see if our staff and students can travel to school safely,” Simpson said by email. .

District officials then inform Superintendent Brad Hunt of the conditions, and he makes the decision to close at 5 am. Coppell alerts the community to the superintendent’s decision through the district’s alert system.

Fort Worth ISD begins its winter weather assessment at least 24 hours before any approaching storm, district officials said.

The goal is to make a decision on whether to cancel classes by 5am at the latest. Fort Worth Superintendent Kent Scribner makes the final decision.

If classes are cancelled, some schools in the area may be forced to modify their schedules to meet state funding requirements.

Texas public schools are required by state law to provide 75,600 instructional minutes to students throughout the school year in order to receive full funding. Most districts add “make-up” days when designing their school calendars, giving them the option of using those days to make up for lost instructional time caused by bad weather or other cancellations.

Even with two days missed, Dallas ISD schools are not expected to make up the days missed.

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Some districts, like DeSoto, had already built extra minutes into their schedules to avoid concerns.

“As a result,” director of communications Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones said, DeSoto is “in a position where we have exceeded mandated instructional minutes, so a decision to close campuses would not negatively affect the district.”

But some districts have already dipped into those accumulated days after closing due to staffing shortages brought on by COVID-19.

In January, the Texas Education Agency informed districts that it had “no plans to issue” waivers for school days missed due to the pandemic during the current school year, and that the days missed would have to be made up over the remainder of the school year. . school year.

DMN’s Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation on pressing educational issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, supported by The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, and the Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

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