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San Lorenzo Valley schools working on plans for future power shutoffs

Santa Cruz County schools are drafting new procedures and plans for the long haul of potential power outages that may impact them during the school year.

At the tri-campus grounds for San Lorenzo Valley High School, Middle School and Elementary School, without electricity to pump wastewater through the treatment plant, school has to be cancelled.

“Basically, we don’t have restroom facilities for students on that tri-campus when the power is out for extended periods of time,” said Dr. Laurie Bruton, the San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District superintendent.

“Four days with still no power, and he was sick with no power and not even having hot water because of our electricity. It’s been rough,” said Heather McLean, a middle school parent.

For many parents here, the possibility of more school closures puts a burden on work schedules and routines. San Lorenzo Valley schools did not have class on Monday, but they were mostly able to resume on Tuesday.

“I can’t take time off of work all the time, at all really,” said McLean. “So it’s been difficult with that, and I don’t want him to be stuck at home with no hot water, no way to heat food.”

The school district superintendent is also concerned about winter and the cold temperatures it will bring to more rural schools during a potential power shutoff.

“As the temperatures drop, our rooms aren’t going to be warm enough for students,” said Dr. Bruton. “So we’ll be having to close school if there’s power outages.”

The district is going to provide lanterns for schools during the winter to help reduce closures. They lose funding from the state every day students are out of school unless they get a waiver from the state related to extraordinary circumstances.

The superintendent does not know if these power outages would qualify, and they will have to wait and see if they need to make up missed school days at the end of the year.

But even in the dark, some families are trying to look at these outages in a better light.

“Really trying to look on the bright side of the extra time with the children and some dedicated time without electronics, I mean it’s just kind of a fun day,” said Diana Lyons, a middle school parent.

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