501 USD board acknowledges frustration over call for school to close at 3 a.m.


TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – USD 501 District is aware of the inconvenience of calling parents at 3 a.m. to let them know schools are closing, but they said they want to let parents know as soon as possible.

The $501 school district school posted on their social media accounts was closed at 2:50 a.m. Thursday. The parents were notified a few minutes later by telephone.

President of the Lalo Munoz school board said: ‘Most of us got this phone call and it’s unfortunate, but keep student safety in mind.’

Several parents commented on the Facebook post that the middle of the night call was upsetting and questioned why the district didn’t make the decision sooner with the cold weather forecast.

The district’s community policy posted online says late arrivals will be communicated by automated call, text or email. Parents can opt out of any part of it by notifying their child’s school.

Superintendent Dr Tiffany Anderson said: ‘Now this is the second time we’ve done this. We made another phone call but if it’s an odd hour. If it’s during the day, everybody’s still up and they see it on the news and so our concern is to make sure people understand that.

Dr Anderson said if they could open they would – especially for children who depend on a safe place and food from their schools, but it depends on the weather.

“If you have freezing temperatures and any type of precipitation – rain, snow showers, light snow – it creates dangerous and slippery conditions that would then prevent us from going,” she said. “That’s the risk when we say ‘we’re going to stay open’ and then something changes.”

Munoz supports the decision for the improvement of education.

“They are in our care and they deserve our best efforts to make sure we do what is best for them.”

Anderson said that next year they will emphasize the opt-out option for calls, texts and emails in their policy.

Also at Thursday night’s virtual meeting, the board agreed to make February 21 (President’s Day) a district-wide mental health day off.

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