School districts along the coast start storm preparations on first day back to school

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The first day of many students' school year was one they couldn't predict. And now, some districts are dismissing students from class due to recent weather forecasts.

As Tropical Storm Laura continues to move towards the coast, Galveston College, Anahuac ISD, Galveston ISD and Brazosport ISD have all canceled classes at certain schools to begin preparations.

Galveston ISD is one of many school districts that started the first day of school virtually today. A worldwide Zoom outage and preparing for tropical storms were challenges the district, along with several other Texas schools, had to overcome on Monday.

Galveston ISD Superintendent Dr. Kelli Moulton said the Zoom issues were resolved shortly before 11 a.m. Monday, but it did have an impact on the early morning start of the first day back-to-school. Dr. Moulton said the district is also preparing for surge impact due to the two possible tropical storms, Laura and Marco, moving into the Gulf.

"We're already busy trying to do those storm things that we know we need to do. We're packing important papers that go to an independent site. We're putting our storm surge gates. We're moving vehicles off campus. We're making plans for anything that plugs in," Dr. Moulton said. "We also have a unique situation because we serve Bolivar Peninsula, which has our Crenshaw school that, as a peninsula, is already below sea level."

She said the district will be giving regular updates on its website every day at 3 p.m. to keep the community informed.

"While we're taking attendance today, we're getting them started and making sure they have what they need. It is the case that Bolivar will not have school tomorrow," Dr. Moulton said. "The other schools, we're still waiting to learn more about where the storm or storms may go and just staying in touch with our website, our media."

Brazosport ISD announced Monday that school will be closed until Friday in order for families to have ample amounts of time to start preparing since they have students who reside on the coast.



"Even though we currently are not in the projected direct path of TS Laura, we all know it is expected to strengthen and how quickly it can change paths. We are also expecting a large storm surge on the coast, which is in our district," spokesperson Sophia Tami said. "Since we are still doing mostly at home virtual learning, it is not as big of a disruption to families being extra cautious."

A spokesperson with Alvin ISD said for its first day of school, it was not impacted as much by the Zoom outage, like other school districts, because it uses Google, not Zoom products. Alvin ISD has already started its storm preparedness plans as well.

Mother of four Leslie Almendarez said she's preparing for three of her children to start school virtually in September at Galena Park ISD, while also preparing for the possibility of storms.

"I don't know how it's going to turn out. I'm kind of getting nervous because it's already in about two more weeks, so I'm just getting them ready," Almendarez said, regarding online learning this fall. "It's crazy that we have two (storms) that could possibly collide, but we don't know. I know we were here for Harvey. We didn't go nowhere and we made it through it. We got lucky on that."

The list of local school districts that started the first day of school Monday are: Alvin ISD, Clear Creek ISD, Damon ISD, Dickerson ISD, Galveston ISD, Hempstead ISD, Lamar CISD, Needville ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Texas City ISD and Waller ISD.

Some area colleges and universities are starting fall classes as well: Lone Star College, Prairie View A&M and University of Houston's main campus, Clear Lake and Downtown campuses.

Klein ISD also put out an alert on its website Monday, stating:

"Klein ISD is actively monitoring tropical systems Marco and Laura for potential impacts they may bring to our area. As always, we will take proactive steps as needed to ensure the safety of our students, staff, and community. Please stay safe and heed all weather warnings from local weather experts and officials. We will continue to monitor the weather and provide updates as warranted via our dedicated weather website at KleinISD.net/weather and our social media accounts."

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