Late closures should be resolved quickly to prevent safety risks for students, staff

Ashton Rushing, Opinion Editor

   

 Conroe ISD closed due to flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda at around 6:50 a.m. on Friday Sept. 19., Imelda had dropped 43 inches of rain through its life span over Texas and Louisiana. The flooding that followed is responsible for five fatalities with thousands injured and displaced. 

Conroe ISD’s late closure was a reckless decision because of the harm that could have taken place during the events of Imelda. Still, CISD sent out a statement trying to justify their decisions.

“The safety of all of our students and staff is always the priority when evaluating the weather and making decisions as we never want to place students of staff in harm’s way. We also understand that closing means that tens of thousands of our almost 65,000 students will be left home without supervision or food.”  

Along with this a tweet was released by the CISD twitter page that goes on to say.

“District administrators have been montering weather reports and working closely with local agencies. Over the last three days and begun at 3 a.m. thursday. Unfortunately the weather’s impact extended past the initially protected areas.”

The tweet also goes on to say that the predictions given were off causing the late closure. 

That explanation, however, does not justify the effects that it could have, and did have, on staff and students. If the main priority of CISD is to keep students and staff safe, it would have gotten the appropriate response out quickly. Road conditions were quickly deteriorating along with flooding that was severe enough to cause road closures in Conroe and surrounding areas. Local news stations already had those reports out making the decision to close late due to bad projections and not enough information invalid. If weather predictions were really that far off to make to the district not close. That raises questions about whether the district is truly paying attention or is using the correct sources. If the district is truly going to protect staff and students then more attention needs to be given to these events along with a greater amount of scrutiny towards given projections.  

The decision to close at the time the district did was not a way to keep students safe. This is because buses are to release students at school at 6:50 a.m; so students that were already on buses were forced to go through the dangerous road conditions to get to school. Students were not the only ones negatively affected though, teachers and staff were put in harm’s way just as much as students.

Bus drivers were put in danger because they had to pick up kids en route to the school, while teachers and staff had to find a way to the school or risk their job over missing the school day unannounced. Most teachers and staff also have to be at the school earlier than students, causing the already late closure time to be even later for school staff. This late announcement was also bad for teachers and staff that own smaller vehicles because it caused some cars to be stuck at school, or get stuck in the flooding. Parents, friends, and guardians were also put at risk.

When the school closed people had to stay or they were picked up. This made anyone who went to pick up someone at risk due to the traffic and flooding that was occurring. Along with that if a vehicle or person is lost in the flood because of the districts late closure, it would affect the whole family, or group. This also causing risk to the district as if someone was to get hurt or possibly killed on district property. The district could have been sued do to the harm of others.

Overall the late closer was a bad decision that put more people at risk of harm. The two things that needs to change that have been highlighted in these events is; the district needs to make its decisions over closures quicker. Not doing so is only going to cause unnecessary risk on the lives of others. Along with that the method of predicting weather emergencies needs to be scrutinized instead of only believing what is shown in the production more time needs to be put in to insure the safety of others. Because of the districts reaction time to the events of Imelda, it put more people at risk than what it was intending and caused many students and families to lose trust in the district. 

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