Due to severe cold weather, schools across a wide swath of the South, from Texas and Tennessee to Alabama and Arkansas, closed Tuesday, affecting about a million children in a region known for its mild winters.
The Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth school districts, serving a total of more than 400,000 students, were closed, as were schools serving hundreds of thousands of students in and around Atlanta.
Several southern school systems said they would also remain closed Wednesday, including the Memphis-Shelby County School District in Tennessee, the largest in that state, with 106,000 students. Temperatures in Memphis fell into the single digits Tuesday morning.
“I think the decision to close schools is a wise one considering the overall safety of kids who have to wait outside for transportation, or even just parents driving to school,” said Alli Echlin, 41. years, mother of a second grader at Libertas, a charter school. school in Memphis.
School systems in Washington, D.C., Montgomery, Maryland, and Fairfax, Virginia, were closed Tuesday as temperatures plummeted and snow fell overnight and into the morning.
Even some northern cities, accustomed to harsh winters, closed their schools on Tuesday, including districts in Chicago, Detroit and Denver.
But the closures across the Sun Belt were the most unusual.
“We’re not built for this,” said Hollie Plemons, a Fort Worth mother whose 10- and 16-year-old children were home Tuesday.
The Angleton school district, with 6,700 students south of Houston, said it was closed due to “possible freezing weather and unsafe travel.” The temperature there was around 20 degrees Tuesday morning, about 30 degrees below typical for this time of year.
And the small two-school district in Three Rivers, Texas, south of San Antonio, said it had canceled Tuesday classes, athletics and a school board meeting because of frigid temperatures, rainfall and a series of accidents. reported automobiles.
The closures disrupted many parents’ work and child care plans after the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, creating a familiar sense of chaos for families who had struggled during the educational disruptions of the pandemic. Covid-19.
In Georgia and Alabama, several districts held classes remotely Tuesday, a practice that has increased in prevalence since the pandemic introduced it to tens of millions of homes.
Snowy weather and frigid temperatures forced universities to close across the South. Texas A&M University’s flagship campus in College Station canceled classes Tuesday, as did the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and Tennessee Tech University east of Nashville.
As school officials across the region deliberated Monday afternoon about whether to open buildings the next morning, parents on social media urged them to make a decision quickly, sometimes writing that children lacked school-appropriate clothing. bad weather or that local roads seemed unsafe.
“A working single mother with four children,” said one Houston mother, “needs to plan.”
Jessica Jaglois, Colby Edmonds, Michael Corkery and Juan Yoon contributed reports.