How local districts and universities are responding to severe storms pounding the state

The San Joaquin River has swollen beyond its usual riverbanks thanks to record rainfall. Melting snowfall threatens to flood the city of Firebaugh and six of its seven schools.

Credit: Emma Gallegos / EdSource

As severe weather conditions continue to pound the state, some school districts and university campuses throughout Southern California have closed or made adjustments to instruction – while others have opted to remain open.

Sunday, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in eight counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. 

“California: this is a serious storm with dangerous and potentially life-threatening impacts. Please pay attention to any emergency orders or alerts from local officials,” the governor said in a media release. “California is ready with a record number of emergency assets on the ground to respond to the impacts of this storm.”

As a result, Several Cal State Campuses have moved classes online Monday, including Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Northridge. 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brownaid also announced that all schools throughout the county will be closed Monday, including Santa Barbara Unified School District – which will announce any closures beyond Monday later today. 

The Los Angeles Unified School District, however, announced they would keep the vast majority of their campuses open – with the exception of Vinedale College Preparatory Academy and the Topanga Elementary Charter School. 

District maintenance teams were instructed to arrive at school sites at 5 a.m. Monday morning to assess their “safety and accessibility,” according to a district post on X on Sunday. The district also said in an X post that they would closely monitor campuses that are more likely to be impacted by the storm and that guidance from the city and county would determine any additional closures. 

“We recognize the severity this storm can cause especially in certain communities and urge everyone to be careful and cautious,” read a district statement released at about 6:15 a.m. Monday morning. 

“Please use your best judgment based on the conditions where you live and your ability to safely travel to your school/work location.” 

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also said in an Employee and Family Letter sent Feb. 4 the district leaders “remain confident” in their ability to provide “the necessary instructional and operational support to students,” especially those who rely on their school-provided meals.

A statement by SEIU Local 99, the union representing classified school employees, emphasized the importance of safe working conditions and constant communication with the district. 

“Regardless of where you work, safety is the priority. Please give yourself extra time for your commute and use extreme caution….. No one should lose pay due to the unsafe conditions created by the storm,” the statement read. 

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, however, has taken a split approach with campuses in Santa Monica remaining open and those in Malibu closing. 

Further south, the San Diego County of Education’s Project Rest has helped nearly 100 San Diego Unified School District families affected by the storms secure motel vouchers, CBS8 reported. 

Kristy Drake, who works at the district’s Office of Children and Youth in Transition, told CBS8: “We are not going to leave any of our families outdoors or in their cars, so we are extending and hopeful that some more stable housing relief will show up very very soon.” 

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