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.

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