When is it safe to go to school?

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You see I’m a little unhappy that the Glendale Unified School District waited until 8:30 Thursday morning to issue a press release saying that the schools are open. I’m sure that most of Glendale was aware of the severe wind storm  this past Wednesday evening. In fact according to the National Weather Service Forecast Office winds were spotted up to 60 miles per hour  in the hills above Glendale.  I didn’t check back but it appeared to me that the winds continued to pick up. Here is some info from the National Weather Forecast Office from Wednesday night.

 1040 PM     NON-TSTM WND GST 2 NNE GLENDALE          34.20N 118.24W
 11/30/2011  M60.00 MPH       LOS ANGELES        CA   TRAINED SPOTTER 


 1053 PM     NON-TSTM WND GST 2 WNW BURBANK           34.20N 118.36W
 11/30/2011  M55.00 MPH       LOS ANGELES        CA   ASOS            


There is no doubt that there was quite a bit of storm damage to our community. At the time of writing this I haven’t seen any reports about injury or fatalities and I hope everyone is okay. However many trees were blown down in the storm blocking streets and sidewalks. Power lines were knocked down causing at least one electrical flare up but I suspect more.

My question is how do we know when is it safe to go to school? What criteria does the Glendale Unified School District use to determine if the schools should stay open or closed? Why did it take until 15 minutes after school to start for GUSD to say that the schools would be open? After so much wide spread tree damage to the community how do we know if the school campuses are safe for students to attend. Is it wrong to question the safety of school site when tree’s have been damaged and need to be removed? I personally don’t think it is wrong.

You see The Pasadena Unified School District issued this statement on their website:

Due to severe wind damage in Pasadena, ALL PUSD schools are closed today, December 1.  All afterschool programs are cancelled today.
Again I ask. When is it safe to go to school and what criteria does the district use to make that determination and when they do can they let the community know sooner.
I I finally saw this notice on the GUSD Website.
NEWS ADVISORY, as of 8:30 a.m.
Glendale schools OPEN after windstorm
All Glendale and La Crescenta public schools open for classes
GLENDALE, CA --  The Glendale Unified School District is open and operating this morning after the
overnight windstorm of November30-December 1.
The Glendale school district includes all public schools in Glendale and La Crescenta.
Crescenta Valley High School, La Crescenta Elementary School and Glenoaks Elementary School are
currently without electrical power but telephones are working and classes are in session.
Students are being advised to avoid storm debris and steer clear of any downed power lines.
The Glendale Unified School District includes of 20 elementary schools, four middle schools, five high
schools and two program facilities for independent learners and for special needs students.

Note that the time of the press release is 15 minutes after most schools are scheduled to begin. So 15 minutes after school started GUSD advised students “to avoid storm debris and steer clear of any power lines.” In my opinion thats too little, too late.” Most students and their families had already made their decisions to go to school. We rely on our School District to do a better job communicating with us about these matters. The GUSD website has a General Emergency Information page but it only addresses the issue of dissemination of information via:

Using the telephone – In an earthquake or other major emergency, telephones may not be operating or lines may be too busy to call the schools. In this case, do not use the phone. Go to the school and pick up your child(ren) as soon as possible. When phones are operating, the district will put on its 24-Hour Emergency Information “Hot” Line. The number is 818-241-3111.
Cable television & city radio – Emergency information and updates related to the schools will appear as soon as possible on Charter Cable Channel 15 (Glendale Schools education channel) or AT&T U-verse GREG-tv. Cable Channel 6 (City of Glendale) will provide community-related information. Note: Cable TV access restricted to Charter Communications subscribers in Glendale. The City of Glendale also operates a limited signal radio station (1680-AM), which can be heard within the city (effective June 2003).
School district web site – As possible, emergency information and updates will be posted on the school district’s website. The address is:http://www.gusd.net. The home page will direct users to the proper location on the site.

Radio & Television – If possible, the district will send information to radio stations KFWB (AM-980) and KNX (AM-1070), along with other radio and TV stations. The district will make every attempt to communicate accurate information to the media but cannot guarantee the accuracy of what goes on the air.

Newspapers – Emergency information will appear in newspapers serving the district, including the Glendale News-PressDaily News and CV Weekly. Efforts will be made to place information in foreign language newspapers that publish in Spanish, Armenian and Korean.

Why are there no Social Media outlets? Why nothing about Facebook (The number 2 website in the world) YouTube (The number 3 website in the world) and Twitter (which has 175 Million Users).

I witnessed students pathways being blocked on both sides of the road by trees and debris and students climbing over and through the debris in order to get to school. Traffic was backed up for blocks in some areas, and cars were running red lights which makes it even more dangerous to walk or drive to school.

Glendale has a wonderful education system and I applaud everyone who works in the school district for their hard work and dedication to the students and their families. No one is perfect and GUSD does a very admirable job in creating such a wonderful education system. I do think that this is an opportunity for GUSD to take a long hard look at it’s self and to consider how it can do better next time.

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