Oct 31, 2022 - News

Safety concerns prompts Election Day school closings

Illustration of a school desk surrounded by caution tape

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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.

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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