State and county authorities offer support to schools affected by coastal fires – OECD Newsroom
With their campus temporarily closed in the wake of the Coastal Fire, more than 300 students from Moulton Elementary School in the Capistrano Unified School District were directed to nearby Wood Canyon Elementary School Thursday morning.
At 8:15 a.m., the students of Moulton were grouped by class in a multipurpose room. Less than 30 minutes later, they had moved seamlessly through 14 classrooms set up by a team of caretakers, principal Chris Dembiec said.
Capistrano Unified leaders crafted plans for the temporary transfer in an effort to preserve in-person instruction and continuity, which has been a district priority throughout the pandemic. As firefighters battled the blaze, CUSD also sought to minimize disruption to working parents.
“We knew parents needed a safe place for their children to learn,” said Ryan Burris, district communications and public engagement manager.
On Friday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond visited the new classrooms to support students affected by the fire and to hear about efforts by school officials to ensure that young learners do not fall behind while evacuation orders were in place. He also offered to help students and families with additional resources, including food stamps and gift cards.
“We are truly saddened by the recent events following the Coastal Fire here in Orange County,” Thurmond said. “We will be working tirelessly around the clock to ensure that students and their families are taken care of as evacuations continue across the region.”
While visiting a group of students in one of Wood Canyon’s portable classroom buildings, Thurmond reminded them “we’re so proud that you keep coming to school even when a tragic thing happens. product”.
Thurmond also met with Capistrano Unified Superintendent Kirsten Vital Brulte and Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares, who credited the state’s quick response.
“It’s an effort to respond to a crisis and check in with staff to make sure they have the resources to mitigate learning loss,” Mijares said.
On Thursday, CUSD began providing Chromebooks to students who lacked sufficient supplies outside of their normal classrooms. Staff and community members have also reached out to support Wood Canyon Elementary, which typically hosts around 400 students.
“The biggest question I get is ‘How can I help? “Said Ronda Walen, president of the local chapter of the California School Employees Association.
Mijares said the OECD will continue to offer support to the communities of Laguna Niguel and Aliso Viejo.
“Everything people need to get back on their feet,” he said. “Our whole effort is to find out exactly the extent of the crisis and where we can weigh in and help as the County Education Office.”
With the Coastal Fire still under control Friday afternoon, the Orange County Fire Authority reduced the mandatory evacuation zone from 900 homes to 131 homes.