LAS CRUCES—As a precautionary measure, all elementary schools in Las Cruces dismissed students 30 minutes later than normal this afternoon (Oct. 7) as a lightning storm passed through the area. Andrea Fletcher, LCPS chief academic officer, said throughout the afternoon, district officials monitored the weather reports for the potential for lightning. At approximately 2:00 p.m., lightning was detected within 10 miles of several LCPS schools, which was when the decision was made to keep children indoors.

Elementary dismissal time is normally 2:30 p.m. Fletcher said the decision for delayed dismissal was based on the LCPS lightning protocols.

“We didn’t want children walking home or walking to the bus while there was lighting in the area,” Fletcher said. “Unfortunately, the lightning approached Las Cruces very close to dismissal time, which meant notifying parents would be a challenge.”

Although elementary students were kept indoors and schools were dismissed late, the middle schools and high schools maintained their normal dismissal times. However, any student who rides a school bus, regardless of their grade level, probably got home late from school due to the weather event, Fletcher said.

“Notifying parents of a school district emergency or a change in school schedule due because of bad weather is done through a number of ways,” said Jo Galvan, LCPS Chief Communications Officer.

The district posts emergency messages on the home page of the district’s website, makes Facebook announcements, places thousands of automated telephone calls to parents through the School Messenger system, and contacts local radio stations, Galvan said.

“It’s not easy to get ahold of all parents at the same time, especially when it’s for something that’s unexpected like weather,” Galvan said. “Luckily, the reactions we got from parents today were mostly positive and parents understood why we were taking precautions.”

Galvan said parents can read the lightning protocols on a web page containing information specifically of interest to parents: http://lcps.k12.nm.us/for-parents/.

—For information, contact Jo Galvan, LCPS Communications, 575.527.5811, jgalvan@lcps.k12.nm.us