UPDATE 11 a.m. Thursday:
Lakeport Unified School District
Lakeport Unified School District was originally set to return to school in early August, however impacts from the Mendocino Complex Fire caused their start of school to be delayed.
Primary concerns for the district were evacuation orders, smoke and ash, which, according Superintendent Leiferman, was located on both the outside and inside of the buildings. Evacuation orders that had sections of schools located in evacuation zones were only recently lifted.
“We have made a lot of progress in cleaning our buildings,” Leiferman said. “Our offices are now clean, so they’re all staffed in the offices and we have two of our gyms clean, so we can have our fall sports teams practicing inside.”
Bond projects were also delayed. Contractors were unable to finish work on the District’s central citchen and sidewalks, ramps, and railings to sixth grade classrooms due to evacuation orders and smoke conditions.
Despite setbacks, the Lakeport Unified School District expects to meet its delayed start date, Aug. 22.
“We’ve been through enough that I really hope that we can start on the 22nd and there will be no more setbacks,” Superintendent Leiferman said. “The community’s been traumatized enough.”
Schools are adjusting and attempting to reach a sense of normalcy after being impacted by the effects of the California wildfires.
Ash, air quality, building cleanliness, and mandatory evacuation orders have forced some Northern California schools to adjust the start of school and address other impacts from the wildfires. While not all of the school districts in Northern California have been forced to adjust their schedules, they nonetheless are continuing to address the effects of devastating fires.
Konocti Unified School District
While schools were safe in Konocti Unified, located in Lake County, the surrounding communities were forced to evacuate the area. The evacuation orders left a Konocti school in the mandatory evacuation zone up until the order was lifted.
Meanwhile, Lower Lake High School was used as an evacuation shelter for the Red Cross. According to Superintendent Donna Becnel, there were approximately 480 evacuees at one point. Last night, the number was around 300, however, with the evacuation order being lifted, people are expected to be returning home.
As a result of evacuations and ash, the school year will be delayed.
“We were scheduled to start August 15 with school, and we have now had to delay that until August 20,” said Becnel.
“Our main concern right now is just the ash infiltration. We are not experiencing any smoke damage. This is our 4th year of dealing with fires impacting our school district, so we’re pretty well aware of what we need to look for and who to contact to come in and help support getting everything cleaned up and ready for students.”
To keep in touch with updates from Konocti Unified, the school district suggests people follow their social media page and visit the website or mobile app to keep up with posts.
Redding School District
Redding School District, located in Shasta County, had previously announced that its schools were saved and that they would be pursuing a sense of normalcy by starting the school year on time.
Currently, the school district is addressing the issues with ash on its buildings and structures.
“We are doing ash cleanup with a service master on the outside of our buildings and our staff is cleaning inside of all buildings to prepare for children to return next Wednesday,” said Redding School District Superintendent Robert Adams in an email to ABC10.
Air filters are going to be changed on a 10-day rotation, in order to produce higher air quality in the buildings. The District is also working with the Air Quality Control Board to make sure kids are safe at school until the air clears.
Shasta Union Elementary School, a partner school with Redding School District, was damaged by the Carr Fire, specifically on the north side of some buildings. A garage and an entire play structure were lost.
In response, the Shasta Union Elementary will be starting in an alternative location. The school is estimated to be off-site for four to six months. The start date for the school has been pushed back to August 20.
Upper Lake Unified School District
The district will be working on issues impacting the school, like ash and smoke, which have been surrounding the school for the past two weeks. Efforts will be made to mitigate air quality in offices, classrooms, campuses, and elementary schools.
Their office employees are expected to return on August 13 while teachers and support staff will be returning on August 20.
The opening day for the Upper Lake Unified School District, located in Lake County, has been postponed to no earlier than August 22.
“Our kids need time to come back and feel safe and feel a sense of community. And we try to move from what we call a survival mentality to a thriving mentality. That cannot happen overnight…” said Superintendent Giovanni Annous.
Provided there are no changes in fire conditions, the District hopes to welcome students back to clean and safe classrooms and campuses.