Portola Valley public schools reopen for classes on Friday after PG&E power shutoffs


Classes will resume tomorrow (Oct. 11) for Portola Valley Elementary School District schools after today's closure due to the threat of power shutoffs in Portola Valley.

Many streets in Portola Valley and Woodside lost power due to PG&E's precautionary shutoffs at about 10 p.m. Wednesday. Woodside Fire Protection District Marshal Denise Enea warned earlier this week that fire danger-related power shutoffs were expected to begin at noon on Wednesday could last up to five days.

"Portola Valley School District is in constant communication with local fire, law enforcement, neighboring Districts, and the County Office of Education regarding potential power outages, red flag warnings, and safety conditions in our area," Superintendent Roberta Zarea said in an update to district families on Thursday.

"At this point in time, it is unclear if Corte Madera and Ormondale Schools will be impacted by power outages on Friday, or how long it will take for power to be restored. ... Teachers are ready to continue instruction without the use of electricity, all toilets on campus can operate without power, fire alarms have backup batteries, and we are initiating our school protocols regarding campus safety during power outages so that the academic day continues as normal as possible."

The district's two schools were closed today "given the extremely limited means of evacuation from our schools, the significant increased risk of wildfire due to gusty winds and dry conditions, and the power outage," Zarea said in an email to district families on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Menlo-Atherton High School Principal Simone Rick-Kennel emailed parents on Wednesday noting that the school would not be affected by planned power outages. She said that officials at the Atherton school are "aware some students and staff may live in affected areas so [we have asked teachers to plan low tech lessons for the remainder of the week."

For updates on public school closures in San Mateo County because of the outages, visit the San Mateo County Office of Education's website here.

Earlier this week, the National Weather Service called a "Fire Weather Watch" beginning Tuesday night and lasting through Thursday. The alert was prompted by predicted severe and dry offshore winds during that period. Forecasters said it was likely to be the strongest offshore wind event of the 2019 fire season.


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