Weather cancels school, makeup days announced

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Photo by Katy Clark

Students woke up on Jan. 24 and 28 to find their houses and cars covered in ice and sleet.

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What initially started as a weather report for the week turned into the increased viewing of local news channels and social network frenzy as students, parents, and faculty wondered whether or not school would be cancelled on Jan. 24. The anticipation finally disappeared with the sound of a voice mail in the early morning, which informed the community that school was cancelled due to inclement weather.

One weekend later, on Jan. 28, the cycle repeated itself. KISD announced the makeup days on Feb. 3. Students now have to make up school on April 17 and June 6.

“I was concerned about missing school because we have to go, and I was also concerned about the fact that we had to make up the days”, says junior Erin Engelhardt, “but as a relatively new driver, I didn’t want to come to school because the roads were bad. It gave me two days of recuperation that I really wanted; I ended up staying home, sleeping late, and catching up on homework. Thankfully, teachers pushed things back, and it also gave me extra days to study, which was much appreciated.”

With the days lost, students spent the day surviving the “icepocalypse” of 2014, as dubbed on Facebook and Instagram.

“I was pretty happy when they were announced,” said senior Daniel Marchant. “I had the same experience I could have had if I just had school, so it kind of felt like a day was wasted, but it’s all good. I hung out with a bunch of friends, and we played a lot of Super Smash Bros. I also caught up on sleep; that was a good thing.”

While other districts such as Katy and Humble followed Klein’s decision, other districts and colleges decided to delay the school day or extend the cancellation to the next day. Klein’s decision ultimately rested in the superintendent’s office.

“I touch base with about 15 other school districts in the Houston area, as well as personnel within our school district,” said Klein ISD Superintendent Jim Cain. “We have personnel on the roads as early as 4:00 a.m. assessing road conditions, and we closely monitor the forecast. We compare conditions about roads, overpasses, the ability of our employees to get to work, and safety issues for students, parents, and employees. We also consider what weather conditions are forecast throughout the day and what those conditions will be like when it is time to start school and dismiss students from school. I will either make the decision the night before or the morning of school no later than 6:00 AM; ultimately, we must do what is in the best interest of the Klein ISD, even if that differs from nearby school districts.”

Present on the district calendar, certain days marked as staff development days or student holidays now became school days.

“The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has a rule that school districts must make up the first two days that are missed due to weather,” says Cain.  “If there are days missed beyond that, school districts can ask the TEA for a waiver. It may or may not be granted.”

One of the makeup days scheduled falls on Apr. 17. The other makeup day falls on June 6, the day before graduation and the day after final exams for the second semester.

“I don’t agree with that, but it’s not pushing school into the summer any further or we don’t have to go to school on Saturdays,” said Engelhardt. “I’m not too upset about it, but it’s just two days, and it wasn’t like a free day. We couldn’t get to go anywhere because of the bad roads. I don’t think it’s going to be detrimental to our learning experience that we miss two days.”

The final day of classes originally was on June 5; this was also the last day of finals. With the new makeup day, students debate the purpose for attending school before the beginning of summer vacation and graduation.

“Everyone’s going to skip June 6 probably. There’s really no point or no consequence for skipping anyways unless you have excessive tardies or absences. But it’s just school,” said Marchant. “I don’t see the big deal. I don’t think it’s all that bad; you get to see all of your friends every day.”

With winter dragging on longer, possibilities of inclement weather may cancel more days of school.

“Hopefully, we won’t have any more days missed, but if we did, we would have to go to the state and see what the state is requiring of the district,” says Principal Larry Whitehead. “The final decision rests with them.”