Following Thursday’s surprise storm, we have received many questions about our protocol and procedures in preparation for inclement weather.
Our district is very unique in that we serve a vast part of the city divided by the mountains and the interstate. This presents many challenges in that the topography of the district can vary greatly from one side of the city’s school to the other. As it often occurs in El Paso, one area can see a rain storm while the other is sunny and dry.
On Thursday, as is the case with all weather emergencies, our emergency operations manager was working closely with the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Emergency Operations Center. The center sets up shop in anticipation of any weather event and monitors road conditions and weather patterns with advice and recommendations from the National Weather Service. Representatives from all school districts, the city and county, police and TxDOT monitor conditions together. The OEM then releases its recommendations on whether we should delay the start of school or cancel classes.
At 3:30 a.m. Thursday, the information received from the OEM and the National Weather Service was that all roads were clear of ice and the anticipated storm wouldn’t hit the area until later Thursday. Unfortunately, the weather service had anticipated the snow and rain to come at about 11 AM and suggested that we open schools regularly.
Mother Nature is unpredictable and El Paso’s weather is no exception. While we rely on and appreciate the expertise of outside agencies, we are also trying to find other systems that understand the needs and challenges of our district, including creating a network of “spotters” to help us obtain supplementary information.
Many factors and considerations go into decisions to either delay the start of classes or cancel altogether. Ultimately, the safety and care of our students and employees is always at the forefront of every decision we make. In the coming days, my operations staff and I will be studying and modifying our protocols to continue to ensure we are doing what is best for our students.
We greatly appreciate everyone’s efforts to keep our students.