You can add El Paso Community College to the list of schools that will close during the pope’s February 17 visit to Juárez.

Like the other institutions that have already made the decision to shut down for the day, safety and security concerns were among the reasons cited by the Board of Trustees for unanimously approving the one-day closure of all campuses and offices.

EPCC President William Serrata was worried that if EPCC police officers were called upon to assist with a matter involving the papal visit, they would not be available to respond to any campus emergency that might arise.

"[The papal visit] is considered a Level Two event for the region," Serrata is quoted as saying in an El Paso Times report. "[That means] all security and police forces are essentially on standby, and if there is an area or emergency where they are needed...they are on call and need to respond to that. Therefore, our own police officers are required to attend to that.”

Reports of expected road closures and traffic congestion, and the affect it could have on access to its campuses also played a big role in the decision.

UTEP,  along with the El Paso, Ysleta, Socorro and San Elizario independent school districts, and El Paso Catholic schools will suspend classes on Feb. 17 as well.

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