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A Note from Dr. Cruz on Weather Cancellations

Dear Austin ISD Community,

When forecasts of winter weather and hazardous road conditions force the school district to delay start times or close for the day, the first thing Austin school district leaders think about is how the decision will affect our students, families and staff.

We know some of our students may not be able to eat breakfast and that all of our students will miss crucial instruction time. We also are mindful that the majority of our parents and guardians must work and that they count on our schools to care for their children. When our emergency management team and I make a decision to start school two hours late or not at all, we do so because we believe we have no other choice.

Many times, the Austin district will need to make decisions on short notice. Winter storms may cause icy roads, plunging temperatures, and sleet and snow throughout Central Texas. We rely on the National Weather Service and local meteorologists, who have cautioned us that even several hundredths of an inch of rain can freeze on exposed surfaces.

Sometimes, inclement weather forecasts are clear. Often, they are not. Sometimes, we can make informed decisions the night before weather is expected to worsen. Often, we cannot. In each instance, we must rely on the best information available at the time.

Some community members may question the school district’s decision to delay or cancel classes with observations about the weather conditions in their neighborhood as they begin their daily commutes.

The reality, though, is that the Austin district must make decisions for citywide operations that start long before the sun rises. We are prepared to make decisions about road conditions by 3 a.m. to ensure transportation employees will be able to drive safely to work to begin their bus routes. Food service workers and custodians must be able to drive safely to more than 120 schools to prepare campuses well before the first bell rings. Our school buses are on the road by 5 a.m. for their first student pick up at 5:20 a.m.

We also make decisions about weather and road conditions throughout the day and well into the evening. We review operational needs and realities, including law enforcement, emergency management, transportation, facilities, food services, after-school programming, fine arts and athletics.

As the largest school district in the region, the Austin Independent School District would like to thank our families and the Austin community for your patience and support as we work to ensure the safety of our school communities with as little disruption as possible.

We also would like to thank the partners who work with us to monitor weather situations and coordinate decision-making, including the city of Austin, Travis County, the University of Texas at Austin, Austin Community College, fellow school districts and many others.

We wish we had a crystal ball to tell us exactly what the weather and road conditions will be at any given time. Instead, we must rely on the most up-to-date weather forecasts to anticipate weather and road conditions.

Weather can be unpredictable, and winter in Central Texas can bring a series of unexpected, yo-yo-like weather conditions. We have watched freezing temperatures melt into springtime within the span of a day. And we have seen roads dry by daylight only to refreeze overnight.

Because we know how important it is for students to learn every day, included below are links to educational websites that can be used during bad weather days.

As we manage the uncertainty of this winter season, be assured you can count on one thing: When we make decisions, we will always place the safety of our students first.

 

Sincerely,

Paul Cruz, Ph.D.

Superintendent

 

MyOn:
All students and teachers have access. myON is an award-winning personalized literacy environment that incorporates: A state-of-the-art learning platform, enhanced digital reading content, the Lexile Framework, cutting-edge literacy tools, and embedded metrics to monitor activity and growth. Read any place, any time, anywhere.
https://myon.com/

Problem-Solving Iconic Austin: online or offline
The purpose is for Austin ISD GT students and their families to have fun together while using problem solving skills and discovering Iconic Austin.
https://www.smore.com/nkgq9

Citizen Science:
Get involved in doing real science by contributing to these citizen scientist projects. These are real research opportunities open to everyone.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/

https://www.citizensciencealliance.org

Scientific American:
Fun science activities, which parents and their kids ages 6-12 can do together with household items in just a half hour or less. Teachers might like to incorporate them, too.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/education/bring-science-home/

iCivics:
iCivics teaches students how government works by having them experience it directly. Through the games, the player steps into any role – a judge, a member of Congress, a community activist fighting for local change, even the President of the United States – and does the job they do.
https://www.icivics.org/

Law-Related Education:
Resources that help teachers inspire and engage their students in the pursuit of civics education. Videos, lessons and games.
https://www.texaslre.org/

Illuminations:
Illuminations works to serve students by increasing access to quality standards-based resources for teaching and learning mathematics, including interactive tools for students and instructional support for teachers.
https://illuminations.nctm.org/

Calculation Nation:
Calculation Nation uses the power of the web to let students challenge opponents from anywhere in the world. At the same time, students are able to challenge themselves by investigating significant mathematical content and practicing fundamental skills. The element of competition adds an extra layer of excitement. 

http://calculationnation.nctm.org/

Khan Academy:
This is a free online resource that offers practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalized learning dashboard.
https://www.khanacademy.org/

Youcubed Tasks:
This site provides engaging math tasks for students at all levels.
https://www.youcubed.org/tasks/