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Area schools stay open despite weather warnings

ERICA RODRIGUEZ

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Sept. 7, 2010 at 4:07 a.m.

Students at Hopkins Elementary leave campus for the day under considerably better weather conditions than the start of the day, when the first bans of Tropical Storm Hermine hit the Victoria area. School districts monitor conditions and reports from the Texas Department of Transportation when deciding whether to cancel classes.

Area schools remained in session Tuesday during morning flood warnings and tornado watches for much of the region.

In Victoria, three county roads were closed because of high water, and students and parents in rural areas experienced the most difficulty.

"People were having trouble getting their children to school because of the safety," said Adam Jay, a parent with five children in the district. Jay said his vehicle was hydroplaning off the road, and he felt unsafe on his way to drop off his child at William Wood Elementary.

Parents who feel unsafe driving their children to school in inclement weather can possibly get an excused absence for the child, said Diane Boyett, communications director with the Victoria school district.

"If they feel that it is not safe for their child, then they are certainly within their right to say then 'my child is not going to school today,'" she said.

The decision to cancel or delay school is not an easy call, school districts say.

"That is probably one of the most difficult decisions we have to make," said Tony Williams, superintendent of the Industrial school district.

Williams said Wednesday he expects that about 20 students living in rural areas may not be able to get to schools because of rising creek and river levels, but canceling school as of Tuesday was not likely.

"It really is a big, big issue and you want to get it right.," he said.

School districts work closely with local county offices, Texas Department of Transportation and their own transportation directors to monitor the situation.

In Bloomington, administrators drove around the district hourly to check road conditions.

"We know where our problem areas are and we go check those first thing," said Bloomington Superintendent Brad Williams.

Area districts do everything from calling parents individually to using an automated system to call and text parents giving up to several hours notice.

"We don't want parents to feel that sending their child to school is putting them in harm's way," Boyett said.

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