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December 12, 2013

Ice, power outages cause in school closures

COMMERCE — The weather outside was frightful for Commerce residents this week as the ice storm that is now affecting the northeast rolled through the city on Dec. 5.

The weather was even more frightful for Commerce Independent School District Superintendent Blake Cooper, who has the responsibility of whether the school closes for bad weather.

Cooper said the decision to close the school on Dec. 6 was made after representatives from the district drove the streets of Commerce and checked the drivability, especially for the amount of ice that had accumulated on the bridges around Commerce.

“We checked roads, bridges and other safety factors,” he said, adding that it would have been too risky for the buses to safely navigate the streets. “The issue is getting the students there and getting them home.”

Cooper said since the district is allowed two days for bad weather closures until June 2014, the early winter storm has thrown him off a little.

“It’s not even to Christmas and we still have the worst month (for bad weather), January to go,” he said.

According to Cooper, since the winter storm came unexpectedly, the district may be eligible for a waiver for an extra day if more storm closures are in store for Commerce.

Cooper said the decision to only delay school by two hours and not close it on Dec. 9 was an easier decision to make because of the widespread power outages in the city.

“My concern this past Monday was the power lines hanging down and the downed trees,” he said. “I kept it open because many residents were without power. School is a warm place with a hot meal for the students.”

Throughout the closure and power outages, Cooper said the district was able to keep parents and teachers in the loop quickly through Mane Messengers, a messaging system which sends a text, a pre-recorded message or an email to the subscribers, and through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Parents were able to sign up for the Mane Messenger system when they enrolled their student in school.

Cooper said if a parent chose not to sign up for the system but want to do so now, they may contact the campus administration where their child is enrolled at and fill out a request form.

Cooper said the deciding factor on whether he closes a school is the safety of the students enrolled at Commerce ISD.

“Ultimately the kids’ safety is the most important thing,” he said.

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