VHS is back, here’s the recap!

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Sarah Clench and Christian Caudillo

Frias holds bags filled with donations for the fire victims. Photo by: Sarah Clench

Between the start of the Thomas Fire, December 4, through December 12, VUSD had already met several times with the principals from all the schools, discussing safety issues, lesson plans, and resources making sure their students had all the social and emotional support needed. Even though VUSD wanted to restart school on December 13, the district declared school was cancelled until January 8, 2018 due to air quality and other factors.

VUSD had conducted safety checks on the schools involving filtration of the polluted air in the classrooms. Along with air quality, there were 24 variables minimum that must be considered safe to reopen the school, include running water and transportation.

When principal Carlos Cohen was asked what was done to clear the polluted air in the classrooms, Cohen said, “Rooms had to be sampled for air quality, pretty much each classroom had one air purifier, some had two…. The gyms, the fields, the pool, all that takes extra time.”

Cohen explained that Ventura High School immediately took action the first few days of the fire, creating and sending out a survey the on first weekend. Shortly after, the district sent another survey out that was more inclusive, containing more questions.

Counselor Sonja Frias commented, “The district had done this huge technology survey, but not everybody has access to technology. VHS has like 2,200 students, we only had 609 families fill out the paperwork. That’s why we did those pieces of papers that [the students] got from their teachers to [kind of] get a referral.”

According to Frias, the school tried to call in every student that had been displaced, checking if they needed new school supplies like textbooks or a backpack. In addition, the school took donations for the fire victims, filling bags with shoes, clothing items and more.

Frias said, “Mrs. Adamich has been amazing in helping [with] what books were missing. She is saying at this moment that [the students] will not be responsible for the costs. She’s going to try and find a funding source to cover that, so that way they were just issued new books.”

When asked about finals, Cohen said that the administration is “getting a chance to see where their students are at and we moved progress reports and finals to have extra time to review and catch up a little bit before the end of the semester and AP students have a choice to take their AP exams at a later date.”

If students need help socially or emotionally, counselors are trained to help them work through any of the problems they may be dealing with.

The Thomas Fire burned approximately 281,893 acres with 1,063 structures destroyed and 280 structures damaged, according to cdfdata.fire.ca.

In addition, since the fire was declared as a state of emergency, no extra days will be added on to the school year.