Schools Ready Kids for Early Dismissal

Created: 01/16/2014 6:55 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For schools, it wasn’t exactly business as usual.

“We’re going to go home,” a Southgate elementary second grader told us.

He didn’t seem broken up about it.

The announcement came at mid-morning.

“We really want to make sure that all of our kids get home safely," said Southgate elementary school principal Edwina Harder.

But dismissing early poses a challenge that schools don't have to deal with during a late start.

"When we do an early release, if kids are walkers they're not necessarily checking back in with us when they get home," principal Edwina Harder said.

By mid-morning, Austin schools had implemented the early-release plan; lunch and a review of class lists for early-release instructions.

"So we know at dismissal time who's getting on the bus and who's being picked up," Edwina Harder explained.

But getting the word out about school-day changes has gotten easier in this age of text messages and e-mail.

"In the office area then we keep the kids that are not picked up in a particular time-frame that we would expect, and then we're trying to reach families or emergency contacts right away," Edwina Harder said.

“Fortunately my job allowed me to leave work early and a couple extra hours with the kids is good," Laura Chaffee told us. She was one of the parents who made an unplanned trip to Southgate elementary school to pick up her son.

"I'll probably make sure they're bundled up and let them play outside for a while," she said.

But this might surprise you -- not everyone was glad to be leaving school early:

"Because I really want to learn so bad," one second grader shouted to us as he and his classmates prepared to leave the Southgate cafeteria after finishing an early lunch.

“I get to play earlier," another boy said.

For one second grade girl, word of an early release was both good news and bad news: “I want to help my mom because my little brother is suck, and i want to read here, too."

Another second grader said getting home early will give him more time to watch a Power Ranger movie on Netflix and play his video game.

But enjoy it – on Friday, it'll be back to business as usual.  Maybe:

"We might have a half day tomorrow," one second grader told us.

And if the start of school is delayed on Friday morning by continued bad weather, is that alright.

After a brief pause, her answer: “Yes!”

You can contact your local school district to see if it offers text and e-mail notices of school schedule changes, and how you can sign up.