by Victor Lopez
ECTOR COUNTY--Days like today (Friday) are nothing new to school administrators in Ector County. ECISD tells NewsWest 9, they have a strict policy in effect when it comes to deciding when school will be delayed or canceled, due to weather.
"In order to start the buses running on time, we have to make that decision by 4:30 in the morning. About 4:30 this (Friday) morning, the roads were in good condition, it wasn't snowing," ECISD Communications Director, Mike Adkins, said.
When it comes to making changes to the daily school schedule, more people are involved than you think.
"The transportation department gets out, around 4, sometimes earlier and drives around Ector County, checking the conditions of the roads. With the Department of Public Safety, Sheriff's Office, and the National Weather Service, they try to make as good an educated guess as to what's going to happen over the next several hours," Adkins explained.
Even with that, parents like Susan Fuentes feel administrators had plenty of advanced warning and time to make that all important decision, "They were aware of what was coming the day before. For the past few days, you have been talking on the news about the weather and stuff like that. I believe they could have had an idea since yesterday that something, if they did it the first time, when it didn't even snow, why not do it again?"
ECISD's 165 busses start their routes around 5 in the morning. With close to 8,000 students waiting to get to school, Adkins says, you can't just stop and turn them around, "Because of the sheer number of buses we run, the kids we have on the bus, the kids waiting at bus stops all across Ector County, once we make that decision, at 4:30 in the morning, we can't cancel it."
Ashley Lopez's mom decided to play it safe and keep her home, "You just feel the car start to move and ski. My mom started to get nervous and I got nervous and it felt like, 'wow, they're really making us go to school?' As slippery as the street is and as many accidents that can happen, when you're on your way to school, it didn't feel so good," Bonham student, Ashley Lopez, said.
According to Adkins, students will not be counted absent or tardy (Friday) because of weather conditions and parents have the right to keep their kids home, if they feel their safety is as stake, "If you feel like you have to make the decision to keep your kids at home, then that's okay. We certainly understand that."
For some, that's little consolation.
"If they know that the weather, and that it's going to snow, then that's when they should keep the kids from school. Like today, I don't think they should have done that," Fuentes said.
"Whether they cancel school or not, you still have to make up that day. It's really the same, basically," Lopez added.
ECISD wants to remind parents, when school is canceled or delayed, that information is always posted on their web site and sent out to the media. If you don't see it in any of those places, you might as well get the kids up, dressed, and send them on their way.