Sun and little ice: Decision to cancel class a matter of safety

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A decision made Wednesday night to cancel school Thursday meant students at many local districts received a sunny day off from classes. Still, Austin Independent School District officials defended their decision to cancel school as being in the best interest of students, parents and employees given the information at the time.

“School districts want their kids in class,” said AISD Chief of Staff Mel Waxler. “Any decision made not to have kids in classes must have something to do with safety.”

Waxler said three different meteorologists were all forecasting high-confidence rain and freezing temperatures well into Thursday morning. Based on those predictions, AISD reached a decision early Wednesday evening to cancel classes so parents could make arrangements. Without a crystal ball, Waxler said there was no way to see the sunny skies which laid ahead.

“Who could predict weather like this after what we heard yesterday?” asked Waxler. “If you have to err, you better err on the side of children’s safety.”

A conference call hosted by the Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday included local cities, counties and school districts. Although each agency makes their own decision whether or not to cancel operations, the EOC said the City of Austin, Travis County and AISD often set the tone for the entire area. The National Weather Service also takes part in the conference call and their forecast is a driving factor in any decision.

Even local businesses had to make a decision and also follow suit with what the big agencies are doing.

“We typically follow what AISD does,” said Robin Gose at The Thinkery which delayed their opening on Thursday. “We have to keep in mind safety for our staff and the people of Austin, too.”