DALLAS -- At St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, parents picked up children three hours before classes normally end Tuesday.

"I'm a little afraid of the weather," said nine-year-old Sky Tschur, a third grader glad to be headed home.

Dallas Catholic Diocese officials say pressure from concerned parents, combined with the severe weather threat, prompted the cancellation of classes at 28 elementaries and two high schools.

Thousands of students were let out early.

"The Oklahoma tragedy is so fresh in everyone's minds," said spokesperson Annette Taylor, "[but] it doesn't mean that we'll do this every time severe weather moves in. But because of that sensitivity to their concerns, the decision was made to do this today."

Other school districts followed the Dallas Diocese.

Alvarado ISD, Cleburne ISD, Godley ISD, Grandview ISD, Maypearl ISD, Venus ISD, and 10 private schools also dismissed students early. After-school activities were canceled for an additonal six public districts, including Allen, Dallas, Irving, Mansfield, and Red Oak.

Experts say schools are usually constructed better than most homes, making them safer in a storm. Schools often have reinforced rooms designed to serve as shelters.

But parent Milt Songy said in this case, school pickup would be happening about the time the storm hits. He has four children at St. Thomas Aquinas.

"I've been in the line before, when there's been a torrential downpour or heavy winds," Songy said. "And there's just nothing that can be done if everyone's in line [to pick up their kids] at that point."

Parents say an even worse scenario would waiting until it's too late to make a decision that protects children.


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