By T.J. AULDS
The Daily News
Tired of the term polar vortex yet?
A handful of local school districts canceled classes; and power was knocked out in parts of the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas City and at The Salvation Army shelter in Galveston because of a cold blast that hit the region Friday morning.
The La Marque and Hitchcock school districts canceled Friday classes. Mainland Preparatory Academy in La Marque, O’Connell Preparatory in Galveston and Bay Area Charter School in League City also canceled classes.
La Marque Superintendent Terri Watkins said the decision to cancel classes was made at about 3:30 a.m.
“A delayed time would not be in the best interest of our children,” Watkins said. “Parents would have to leave work to come and take students to school or children would have to wait at bus stops alone in the cold weather.
“We felt this decision was best for the students and families of La Marque ISD.”
There was a similar response from Hitchcock Superintendent Barbara Derrick. Hitchcock had initially delayed classes for two hours, but decided early Friday to cancel school.
“When I received word around midnight that we were advised not to travel on roads until after 10 a.m., the decision to close became clear,” she said. “The police department did do a drive-by of our schools to ensure no child was dropped off around the previously announced late start time.”
While those students got the day off, there will come a day when the rest of the county’s public school students will be out of class but La Marque and Hitchcock students will have to be studying.
Neither district announced when the cold weather makeup day would be scheduled.
The wintery blast had already forced the delays in classes at most Galveston County public school districts.
Students and teachers arrived bundled up as classes resumed two hours later than normal in Clear Creek, Texas City, Galveston, Dickinson, Friendswood and Santa Fe school districts.
The Clear Creek school district did cancel classes at Clear Horizons Early College High School, spokeswoman Elaina Polsen said. Clear Horizons canceled classes because of the decision by San Jacinto College to delay classes until noon.
The University of Texas Medical Branch, Texas A&M University at Galveston, University of Houston-Clear Lake, Galveston College and College of the Mainland opened after a two-hour delay.
No districts that held classes Friday reported any major issues.
Power was lost to Texas City’s Blocker Middle School and Woodrow-Wilson campuses for about 40 minutes, district spokeswoman Melissa Tortorici said. Students remained on the campuses until power was restored.
Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation confirmed that no roads in Galveston County were closed. That included the Galveston Causeway, which was open to traffic Friday morning.
However, some roads commonly used by Galveston County residents had issues.
The NASA Bypass bridge in Webster was closed all day Friday and may stay closed through this morning.
The state Highway 124 bridge from Chambers County into High Island was closed, but reopened at about 2 p.m. Friday.
The Fred Hartman Bridge on state Highway 146 between La Porte and Baytown was closed all day Friday because of ice.
While Houston airports reported delays, planes and helicopters were coming and going at Galveston’s Scholes International Airport, Director Hud Hopkins said.
Connect Transit’s bus services in Texas City, La Marque, Dickinson and other parts of the mainland resumed at 8 a.m. Friday, Director James Hollis said.
Park-N-Ride services to and from the medical branch were not opened, however.
Hollis said his drivers were on the lookout for homeless people and were to pick them up and take them to a local shelter.
Island Transit services resumed at noon Friday, as did the bus service from Galveston to medical branch clinics on the mainland and the park-and-rides opened to regular schedules in the afternoon.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry decided to delay opening all county facilities until noon Friday. Galveston officials did the same for city hall.
Galveston County Emergency Management Coordinator David Popoff said that a stretch of the Bolivar Peninsula was without power. The area from the ferry landing to Laguna Harbor had no electricity.
Entergy had power restored by 1 p.m. Friday, Popoff said.
The Salvation Army’s shelter in Galveston lost power at about 8:30 a.m. Friday morning, Capt. Mark Jacobs of the Salvation Army said. Electrical crews restored power around 6:30 p.m.
Just in case power can’t be restored, Jacobs said, he was working with county officials to find a suitable backup on the mainland should The Salvation Army need a Plan B.