Santa Rosa City Schools, the largest school district in Sonoma County, Calif., has canceled all classes next week as fires continue to burn throughout the area.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that the district, which serves 16,400 students, has not set a date to reopen, but will remain closed all week
“We have eight schools without power right now,” district spokeswoman Beth Berk says.
Almost all of the 40 school districts in Sonoma County have been closed this week, with the exception of a few on the coast. The county has set a 4 p.m. Sunday deadline to announce which districts will resume classes next week.
“Many may choose to remain closed next week, depending on circumstances at the time,” County Schools Superintendent Steve Herrington says.
Statewide, nearly 600 schools with about 260,000 students were closed Thursday because of fire danger, dangerous air quality and evacuations.
That decision will be influenced by several factors, including the threat of fires; poor air quality; smoke and fire damage to school facilities; transportation challenges; staffing shortages; power outages; and use of schools as emergency shelters for fire victims.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson says schools can keep receiving state Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding when schools close because of an emergency. The state Department of Education also can send truckloads of dry goods and frozen foods to school districts that request assistance.
“I want to thank all Sonoma County school officials for taking swift and decisive action to keep students, teachers and staff safe from fire danger and from the hazardous air quality,” Torlakson said in a statement.
The department sent two truckloads of frozen food and dry goods to the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa on Tuesday to assist fire victims and has offered to send more food.