SAISD closing all schools Thursday and Friday to assess every building for heating issues
This story has been updated.
San Antonio Independent School District canceled classes Wednesday morning for 30 schools due to ongoing issues with cold classrooms.
Amid this week's arctic cold front, the district opened all SAISD schools except Burbank High School on Tuesday following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The district said in a letter Monday that Burbank students and staff were asked not to report to school on Jan. 16 due to a required repair to get the school to room temperature.
The district said system failures — such as boilers that were slow to heat classrooms and water issues related to burst pipes — caused issues across several district schools Tuesday.
Superintendent Jaime Aquino said in a statement Tuesday that school leaders assembled students in the warmest areas of the building and provided bottled water and hot meals.
“(The) return to the classroom during this cold weather was not as successful as we had planned,” he said. “I regret that our preparations did not meet expectations.”
SAISD announced late Tuesday evening 20 schools would close on Jan. 17 for repairs. An additional eight schools were added to the full list of closures early Wednesday morning.
Parents and community members expressed frustration with the closures on social media, calling the district out for failing to keep schools warm — and for making decisions so last minute. Many said that all of the schools should have been closed.
“Do better, SAISD,” one said. “This is not a game,” said another in Spanish.
Campus administration, custodial staff, and child nutrition services still reported to the schools.
Parents were assured that absences will not be counted against students at these schools. Curbside lunch meals were provided for students from noon to 1 p.m.
The district said Wednesday afternoon that it would need to close all of its schools on Thursday and Friday to assess each building for heating issues.
"We are not going to open a single school until it is warm, safe and a good place for learning. We recognize that perhaps many of you are wondering why was this decision not made sooner, and I take full responsibility for making the wrong call," Superintendent Jaime Aquino said during a press conference Wednesday.
Aquino said the district now knows that about 70% of its 98 schools experienced problems with heating this week.
"We have been unable to ascertain in real time, on-the-ground information in an efficient manner. We have failed our students, our staff, our community by not having accurate, reliable information," Aquino said. "I am taking a deep look not only at the infrastructure process of this issue, but as well as the personnel involved."
Aquino said a combination of human error and system failures caused the heating systems at many campuses to malfunction Tuesday and Wednesday. He said the boilers on every SAISD campus were checked on Monday during the holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and at the time, the heat was working.
"What happened was, we made a human error in terms of not manually overriding the system so that the boilers would run 24 hours in some of our schools," Aquino said. "That error led to major issues in our infrastructure in terms of the boiler pipes breaking down. They completely froze. So, we are right now (having to send) technicians to every single campus to determine the magnitude of that."