Several area school districts to be closed Friday due to Deer Park fire

DEER PARK, Texas - Deer Park, La Porte, Channelview, Galena Park, Sheldon, Goose Creek and Pasadena school districts announced school closures for Friday. 

Though the Houston Independent School District did not cancel classes for HISD schools near Deer Park, the district issued a statement saying all outdoor activities will be held indoors and all afterschool activities were canceled and sporting events were rescheduled.

Three KIPP campuses will also be closed. The Northeast Campus, East End Campus and South East Campus will be closed. All other KIPP schools will be in session.

All Rhodes School campuses and offices will be closed Friday. San Jacinto and Lee colleges will also be closed.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Pius V Catholic Schools will also be closed Friday.

Shelter-in-place orders forced schools to close after benzene was detected at a Deer Park chemical facility that caught fire over the weekend. Those orders have since been lifted, but the schools are closing for safety. 

Deer Park ISD Superintendent Victor White released the following statement:

"Dear Parent/Guardian,

"School is canceled for all Deer Park ISD schools tomorrow, March 22.

"It’s important to note that the City of Deer Park has removed the shelter in place order that was issued early this morning.

"However, according to emergency officials, the conditions that existed this morning and resulted in the shelter in place could occur again tomorrow. In other words, while the situation has improved somewhat today, it could change tomorrow.

"Student safety is our highest priority, and we simply want to avoid a situation where another shelter in place might be called as children are arriving at or leaving school.

"This has been a challenging week for us all. As someone who lives in our community and whose grandchildren attend our schools, I can relate to your concerns as both your superintendent and as a grandparent.

"Hopefully, we will all receive good news about air quality conditions tomorrow. But, in the meantime, we make these decisions out of extra caution for our students and staff.

"Thank you for your continued support."

La Porte ISD released the following statement:

"La Porte ISD will be closed on Friday, March 22.

"In an abundance of caution, La Porte ISD has canceled classes for Friday, March 22.  The district is continuing to monitor conditions following the fire on Independence Parkway this week, and the decision to close school on Friday was made with the safety and other needs of our students, staff, and their families in mind. This will also allow our families time to adjust back to the regular routine after the events of the past few days.

"We have every expectation that school will be in session on Monday, March 25, on a regular schedule.  Regardless, we will confirm with a callout to students and staff the afternoon of Sunday, March 24. This information also will be posted on our website, our mobile app and our Twitter account.

"Again, we are very thankful for the many first responders, emergency management personnel and other individuals who are working to keep our community safe."

Pasadena ISD Superintendent DeeAnn Powell released the following statement:

"Dear Parents,

"The safety of our students and staff remains our top priority. 

"The decision has been made to cancel school tomorrow, March 22, 2019. Pasadena ISD is utilizing the most up-to-date information from City and County Officials, as well as Emergency Management Personnel.

"Even though all shelter in place orders have been lifted and air quality has improved, we now know it is a continually evolving situation. We have been advised that the same conditions present this morning, which caused concerns regarding air quality in our area, could possibly occur again tomorrow. 

"We have decided to use the day tomorrow to inspect our facilities, wash down our playgrounds, and change air filters as necessary across the district. We will have our own outside contractor monitoring air quality, specifically testing for Benzene around our district. 

"If conditions continue to be favorable and if air quality is at acceptable levels, there is a possibility your child's scheduled extracurricular events will go on as planned. 

"Your child's coach or sponsor will reach out to you to check on your willingness to allow your child to participate.  

"Please continue to monitor local news media for the latest information about air quality. 

"Pasadena ISD will communicate future information through our district website, social media, and phone call-out system. An additional source of information related to air quality can be found at www.ReadyHarris.org. 

"I want to personally thank you for your understanding and patience this week. I appreciate your continued support and I will continue to update you as we learn more in the days to come. 

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