How Amarillo area schools decide school closings during winter weather

The process of schools closing for a snow day.

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - One of the steps Amarillo area school districts take when deciding whether or not to call a snow day involves consulting with the Amarillo Area Office of Emergency Management.

“We’re in constant communication with the Amarillo Area Office of Emergency Management,” said Assistant Superintendent at River Road ISD Andy Nies. “Talking to them, what they’re foreseeing as far as weather goes, what’s going on with road conditions, so we are involved in a lot of video conferencing calls whenever we do have weather like this.”

The OEM and the National Weather Service hold webinars for surrounding school districts to attend when we see wintry weather like we did today.

“We have a situational awareness tool that we do use here in Potter and Randall counties,” said Chip Orton, the director of emergency management at the Amarillo OEM. “Which is kind of like Facebook for emergency management where it does allow for group chats. We have designated a space for the independent school districts, all five of them, to have those conversations amongst themselves away from everything else so they can kind of discuss back and forth. But it is also a space for us to share information across so everybody sees it and everyone is on the same playing field.”

The morning of a potential snow day, school districts will have employees driving the roads traveled by buses, parents and students to get to school.

River Road ISD says the snow and temperature doesn’t make a difference in canceling a school. What really makes that difference is the ice.

“Our biggest concern is the ice, the ice on the roads, that is our biggest concern,” said Nies.

As for now, the Amarillo OEM says schools should be able to resume tomorrow.

“I think we’re going to end up okay in this,” said Orton. “There is a dry pocket of air that is over us now and the snow has ended for right now. What we see is there may be more bands coming through tonight and overnight, but we’re not sure where those are going to set up.”

You can stay updated on the latest forecast here.

You can see the latest school closings or delays here.

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