Safety concerns prompts Election Day school closings
Austin public schools will be closed Nov. 8 as districts navigate their roles as polling sites and the attendant safety risks in the wake of school shootings and threats to poll workers.
Why it matters: Campuses have been used as polling sites for years, but the influx of visitors during school hours now poses security challenges.
- Districts either have to close, forcing parents to find child care alternatives, or figure out how to reconfigure safety plans and the flow of traffic.
What's happening: Austin ISD is canceling classes, joining schools in Dallas and San Antonio, to make way for voters.
- Election Day will be a staff development day.
What they’re saying: "This will ensure security at campuses, and allow more campuses to serve as community-focused voting locations in future years," said Jacob Reach, Austin ISD's chief of governmental relations.
- Plus: In a news release, AISD officials also said "Making this day a holiday would ensure that more of our staff and students of voting age would be able to get to the polls and make their voices heard."
Context: Texas was considered a key state in an August House Oversight Committee report on violent threats to election workers.
- Per Texas election code, schools must be made available for use as polling sites if needed.
Between the lines: At AISD parents can no longer walk their little ones into the classroom. They instead have to drop them off with teachers at designated spots outside schools.
Bottom line: Voting security has become paramount, forcing parents to figure out how to occupy their children on an otherwise regular Tuesday.
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