Alaska Earthquake Cancels School for Thousands; Students in Paradise, Calif., Go Back to Class

By Denisa R. Superville — December 03, 2018 2 min read
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Schools in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest school district, will remain closed this week as administrators assess the damage to the system’s 92 schools and buildings in the wake of last Friday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

School officials started examining the earthquake’s impact over the weekend, and discovered collapsed ceilings, dangling vents, and water damage in some schools, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Every school was affected in some way, with some schools sustaining major damage, the paper said.

The district’s custodial and maintenance workers accessed 48 of the system’s schools on Saturday to begin evaluations and repairs, and had begun “the monumental task of clearing away debris, vacuuming water pools, re-assembling classrooms and other tasks to get schools ready for the resumption of class,” Tom Roth, the district’s chief operating officer, said in a note posted on the district’s website on Saturday.

Deena Bishop, the district superintendent, said officials will also set up a process to allow students who fled without their medications and other essential items during Friday’s earthquake to retrieve their belongings.

Classes in the district of about 48,000 are expected to resume Dec. 10, and students may return to their regular buildings or alternate sites, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

In a Dec. 1 message, the district’s school board praised the staff for the “tremendous job taking care of every student” during the earthquake and the resulting damage. In some cases, staff members drove students home, according to the school board.

“It is clear that the emergency training conducted frequently throughout the district is effective,” the school board wrote.“Our staff and students followed protocol and direction extremely well, and we are proud of them.”

Students in Wildfire-Stricken Region Return to Class

Meanwhile in Paradise, Calif., students are expected to start classes today, nearly three weeks after the devastating Camp Fire ravaged the town, damaged or destroyed eight of its nine schools, and displaced about 5,000 students across Butte County, including in Paradise. Eighty-eight people have been confirmed dead.

Students in the hardest-hit towns—Paradise, Magalia, and Concow—will attend schools in neighboring districts. Some will take classes online and through independent study, at churches, and even at a local mall, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Students from Paradise High school and middle schools will take classes at the Chico Mall, with staggered starting times, according to the LA Times.

Photo caption: Allison Susel, the acting principal at Chugiak High School in Chugiak, Alaska, surveys damage following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Nov. 30, 2018. Susel said ceiling tiles came down, books and other items were thrown off shelves in the library and there was water damage, but there were no injuries to students or staff at the suburban Anchorage school.--Mark Thiessen/AP

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.