Some Texas schools closing for Election Day due to safety concerns
Some Texas schools will be closed on Nov. 8 as districts navigate the safety risks that come with being polling sites in the wake of school shootings and threats to poll workers.
Yes, but: That won't include Houston ISD. The largest school district in the state, serving more than 194,000 students, will mostly remain open.
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, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth schools are giving students and teachers Election Day off.
- Districts in those three cities explicitly cited safety concerns as prompting the decision.
Zoom in: HISD made Nov. 3 a holiday for the 2020 election, but the decision does not apply to this year.
- Nearly 400 Houston-area schools are Election Day polling sites, including some in HISD.
However, more than a dozen other Harris County school districts will have the day off at least for students, including:
- Aldine, Alief, Clear Creek, Cypress-Fairbanks, Galena Park, Goose Creek, Humble, Klein, La Porte, Pasadena, Spring Branch, Spring and Tomball ISDs.
Context: A wave of threats and disruptions to the electoral process prompted the Department of Justice to launch a law enforcement task force in July to ensure the safety of the front line of democracy.
- 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, thus making campuses part of safety conversations.
Between the lines: The day of the Robb Elementary shooting, coincided with run-off elections throughout the state.
- The school was not a polling site, but the tragedy highlighted potential vulnerabilities in campuses being open to the public in the electoral process.
What's next: The FBI is asking the public to report suspected threats or violent acts by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or filing an online complaint at tips.fbi.gov.
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