San Antonio ISD to close all campuses Thursday, Friday to check, repair schools following freezing weather

SAISD Superintendent Dr. Jaime Aquino apologizes for ‘making the wrong call’

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Independent School District will close all schools on Thursday and Friday to check buildings and make repairs following this week’s frigid weather.

During a news conference Wednesday, SAISD Superintendent Dr. Jaime Aquino said freezing temperatures resulted in “significant heating system failures” at most schools.

Aquino also apologized for making students, teachers and staff tough it out in cold classrooms this week.

“I take full responsibility for making the wrong call,” he said.

The closure of campuses comes less than 24 hours after the district announced it would be closing 20 campuses on Wednesday. Another 10 schools were added to the closures list on Wednesday morning. The following 30 schools were closed on Wednesday:

  • Ball Elementary
  • Bonham Academy (New)
  • Brackenridge High School
  • Carroll Early Childhood (New)
  • CAST Med High School
  • Cooper at Navarro Early Childhood
  • Crockett Academy
  • Edison High School
  • Fenwick Academy (early release)
  • Herff Elementary
  • Hillcrest Elementary
  • Sam Houston High School (New)
  • Huppertz Elementary
  • Lamar Elementary School
  • Lanier High School (early release)
  • Lowell Middle School
  • Margil Elementary
  • Maverick Elementary
  • Ogden Elementary
  • Poe Middle School
  • Rogers Academy
  • Steele Academy
  • Tafolla Middle School (early release)
  • Travis Early College High School (New)
  • Twain Dual Language Academy
  • Washington Elementary (New)
  • Whittier Middle School (New)
  • Woodlawn Academy
  • YWLA-Primary
  • YWLA-Secondary (New)

In a letter to parents Tuesday, Aquino said the district experienced “some system failures,” slow boilers and water issues related to busted pipes.

Burbank High School was closed on Tuesday, but other campuses experienced “more issues” as the day progressed.

“Our Facilities staff were onsite where needed, working quickly to restore heat. School leaders assembled students in the warmest areas of their buildings and provided bottled water where necessary. Hot meals were ready for our students, and instruction continued. As always, I am impressed with the dedication of our staff to fully embrace all of our students’ needs,” his letter stated. “But I am not satisfied with how our day started.”

Curbside meals for students were available from noon to 1 p.m. Students do not need to be present, and their names and grades will be recorded at the time of pick-up.

Absences will not be counted against students at these identified schools, the district said in a news release.

In his letter, the superintendent apologized to district parents, saying “I regret that our preparations did not meet expectations.”

He added that the district is working “around the clock to address these issues.”

‘We were just trying to stay warm’

KSAT stopped by a few campuses to speak with parents and students about the issue.

“How was school today?” asked KSAT John Paul Barajas.

“It was good, just very cold inside,” said Danielle Villela, a student at Madison Elementary School.

“Was it colder inside or outside?” asked Barajas.

“Inside,” answered Salvador Huerta III, a student at Madison.

The issue of chilly classrooms echoed at Jefferson High School.

“Everybody was focusing on how cold it was, and nobody was focusing on the school work,” said Jaylynn Vargas, a student at Jefferson.

KSAT was contacted about issues at eight of SAISD’s more than 90 schools, but how many total were affected is unclear.

A current SAISD parent and former employee spoke with KSAT on the condition of anonymity.

“Fifteen (schools) that I know of at least, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg because it’s got to be more than that. That’s just the people I know,” said the former employee. “I’m lucky to know that my daughter was cold, so I could do something about it. But how many kids are in the district?”

Many parents we spoke with at Madison and Jefferson had no idea of the classroom’s cold conditions until their students came out.

“They should let us know. I would have just let him stay home if I knew it was that cold,” said Salvador Huerta, a parent at Madison.

Parents hope kids won’t have to find ways to stay warm in school for a second day.

“We were just trying to stay warm, and people wanted to go in a group hug because it was really cold,” said Danielle Villela, a student at Madison.

KSAT has asked the district for an interview with the superintendent and a list of affected campuses. We have not heard back.

SAISD’s letter to parents is below:

Dear SAISD Familia:

I owe you an apology. I lead with a spirit of transparency, and I want to give you an update on what happened today.

Today’s return to the classroom during this cold weather was not as successful as we had planned. Our preparations fell short today, and I am deeply sorry. As a district, we are here to meet the educational and social needs of our children, and we strive to do this in the safest way possible.

However, today was a cold start in our schools. Throughout yesterday and overnight, we diligently checked all campuses to ensure school facilities would be ready for students and staff on Tuesday. For one school – Burbank High School – we were able to determine an issue last night that would prevent opening today, and we quickly communicated this to the Burbank community yesterday evening.

Unfortunately, more issues across the district confronted us this morning. We experienced some system failures, boilers that were slow to heat the buildings, and water issues related to burst pipes. Our Facilities staff were onsite where needed, working quickly to restore heat. School leaders assembled students in the warmest areas of their buildings and provided bottled water where necessary. Hot meals were ready for our students, and instruction continued. As always, I am impressed with the dedication of our staff to fully embrace all of our students’ needs.

But I am not satisfied with how our day started.

We typically call a bad weather day when freezing temperatures come with precipitation and there is a question about road safety. On Monday, following a meeting with other superintendents within Education Service Center-Region 20, the City of San Antonio Emergency Management Department and the National Weather Service, it was determined road conditions were in good shape, all roadways were open, and no additional precipitation was expected. Additionally, CPS did not anticipate power outages. These updates influenced the decision to keep schools open. We did, however, make the decision to cancel all outdoor activities.

We offer a safe haven for our children, and we have this top of mind when we determine bad weather days. We know many of our families depend on us to care for their children, so that they can go to work. For some families, if they can’t make it to work, they may not get paid. Additionally, we typically rely on our buildings being warm and comfortable environments. We were open for the children who needed us, and we will always honor and respect the decisions parents make for their children on these days.

I regret that our preparations did not meet expectations. We will work around the clock to address these issues, and we will be open on Wednesday. We will continue to monitor the situation, and should a campus experience an issue, you will be informed.

In service, Jaime


Some Hill Country, San Antonio-area school districts announce closures, delays due to the freeze

About the Authors

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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