As Texas continues to assess the damage and recover from the February winter storm, one of the many stories to come out of that trying week is how public schools across the state served as a place of support for many communities.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started raging across Texas in March 2020, the state’s public schools have continued to serve as a haven for students, a place where they can pick up meals and supplies. As the winter storm started wreaking havoc across Texas, beginning February 11 and lasting more than a week, suddenly school buildings became a new sort of haven from cold weather—even as many school buildings faced frozen or bursting pipes and flooded hallways and classrooms.
In the Raise Your Hand Texas article “Texas Schools Show Resiliency Through Yet Another Crisis,” Waxahachie ISD officials spoke of using two of their buses to evacuate nursing home residents who had lost power to a nearby hospital. In Leander ISD in Cedar Park, Naumann Elementary PTA volunteers set out a free food pantry within their neighborhood. At the peak of the storm, dozens of campuses across the state opened as a refuge from the frigid temperatures.
In a year filled with constant changes of plans and interruptions due to the pandemic, the winter storm was just one more challenge Texas public school staff and students had to push through. In the weeks after the storm, custodial and maintenance crews have been cleaning up drenched auditoriums or repairing heating systems and pipes. Some districts, including Houston ISD and Austin ISD, moved all students back to virtual learning and didn’t anticipate reopening school buildings until early March. To put some figures to it: Dallas ISD reported that 125 of its campuses faced damages from the storm; Richardson ISD said 45 out of 55 of its schools had damage; 90 Austin ISD schools were affected; and Houston ISD faced more than 500 services requests for its facilities.
For its part, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released guidance for school districted affected by the winter storm, which can be found here.
During a time when Texas public school educators have been asked to go above and beyond their usual above-and-beyond tendencies—often without enough support from the state—we at ATPE see you and are honored to be by your side.
ATPE wants you to be aware of some important information: The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has shared important tips for documenting any damage to your home and avoiding fraudulent repairs.