SACRAMENTO November 9, 2018 – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that assistance is available for any schools forced to close as a result ofraging wildfires in Butte, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties. Hundreds of schools statewide have been impacted by the recent wildfires.
“These fires have been tragic and devastating. Lives have been lost, homes destroyed, and communities devastated. I extend my deepest sympathies for the families, firefighters, first responders, communities, students, teachers, and school districts that have been affected.” Torlakson said. “Safety is the absolute top priority for students and their families, and I thank school officials for acting quickly to close any school sites due to evacuations or hazardous air quality.”
High winds drove the Camp Fire from Pulga, California into the town of Paradise, California on Thursday. By Friday morning, the fire burned 70,000 acres, destroyed 2,000 structures—including Paradise Elementary School—and forced 52,000 people near the fire in Northern California to evacuate. Five people were confirmed dead and several firefighters were injured. Many schools in the San Francisco Bay Area were also forced to close to poor air quality. Meanwhile, the Woolsey Fire (14,000 acres) and Hill Fire (6,100 acres) have forced 88,000 evacuations, dozens of school closures, and have destroyed dozens of homes in both Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.
The CDE has been activated at the State Operations Center of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and is working closely with school leaders in the impacted counties to provide a range of supports.
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State law allows local educational agencies to apply for a waiver to hold them harmless from the loss of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funding based on attendance and state instructional time penalties, if they have to close because of a natural disaster such as floods, fires, or earthquakes.
Approval of school closures and material decreases in attendance may be requested by submitting a Form J-13A. For more guidance on the J-13A submittal and approval process, see the CDE’s Form J-13A web page. More information about recovery resources is available from the CDE’s School Disaster Recovery web page, and at this CalOES web page. Find more information regarding health and the effects of smoke and ash at the CalEPA website. Any impacted school or local education agency can contact EmergencyServices@cde.ca.gov to connect with the CDE team.