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November 28, 2020

Most Santa Cruz County schools close for the week

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—Cabrillo College on Monday joined most school districts across Santa Cruz County when officials announced that classes will be canceled through Aug. 28. The move came after the CZU August Lightning Complex fires forced the evacuation of teachers and staff.

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In making the determination of whether to close schools, district officials considered such factors as air quality, evacuated teachers, whether the schools are in an evacuation zone and power outages, according to a press release from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (SCCOE). 

The districts also considered the number of students unable to access their learning program.

The school districts that closed for the week are Pacific Elementary, Bonny Doon Elementary, San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Cruz City, Soquel Union Elementary, Live Oak, Happy Valley Elementary, Mountain Elementary, Scotts Valley Unified and the SCCOE Alternative Education Programs.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District, the county’s largest school district that is centered in South County, made the decision to continue classes for the week.

PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said the decision came after considering how a weeklong closure—coupled with a program already seriously impacted by Covid-19 distance learning—would impact the students both academically and emotionally.

“Our 20,000 students depend on their educational community of 2,500 staff members to provide not only academic support but also much-needed connection, structure, and care,” Rodriguez stated in a letter to families.

Rodriguez added that the 60 teachers and staff affected by evacuations are eligible to take time off without using their personal necessity days.

In addition, the district has trained a group of substitute teachers and is working with the Educational Services department to provide the lesson plans.

The affected teachers can also change their instruction to “asynchronous instruction,” meaning that students would still receive work, but would not get live online teaching.

About 15 teachers have taken days off, Rodriguez said.

Others, she added, said they would likely need to take time off when they are allowed to return to their homes.

Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance is setting up social-emotional supports for staff, students and their families.

Rodriguez said that PVUSD will continue to monitor the fire, particularly with the possibility that lightning strikes over the next few days could cause additional fires.

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