‘This is extremely serious’: All PVUSD schools closed Monday amid flash flood warnings

Flood maps inside Santa Cruz County's emergency operations center on Wednesday, January 4.
Flood maps inside Santa Cruz County’s emergency operations center Jan. 4 as staff prepared for more storms to hit the region.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

With flash flood warnings in effect, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District announced that classes were canceled Monday at all of its schools. On Sunday, the district said it would cancel Monday and Tuesday classes for schools including Ann Soldo Elementary School, Hall District Elementary School, Ohlone Elementary School, Lakeview Middle School, Pajaro Middle School and Watsonville High School. About 4,620 students attend those schools.

UPDATE: Just after 7 a.m. Monday, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District announced that all its schools would be closed Monday with flash flood warnings in effect throughout the area. It will evaluate whether all schools should remain closed on Tuesday, or only those within mandatory evacuation zones.

With the high potential for the Pajaro River to flood on Monday, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District is canceling classes for nine schools and several alternative education sites for Monday and Tuesday.

“This is extremely serious. I think that this is one of the most significant incidents we’ve seen in a long time,” said County Superintendent of Schools Faris Sabbah. “I think an important aspect of this is listening to direction for evacuation orders.” The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation warnings for several neighborhoods in and around Watsonville on Sunday.

Considering the risks, PVUSD on Sunday canceled Monday classes for Ann Soldo Elementary School, Hall District Elementary School, Ohlone Elementary School, Calabasas Elementary School, MacQuiddy Elementary School, Lakeview Middle School, Pajaro Middle School and Watsonville High School. About 4,620 students attend those schools. Early Monday, the district added Bradley Elementary School, Alianza Charter School and Watsonville Charter Schools of the Arts to the closure list amid what it called unsafe road conditions.

The district’s other schools will resume classes Monday. On Tuesday, the district will evaluate whether it is safe for the closed schools to return to class Wednesday.

“We recognize these storms are creating unique and changing conditions and the list of affected schools, flood zones and evacuation areas can change. We will communicate any further school closures in a timely manner if they should occur,” PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said Sunday in a letter to families.

Storm Central keeps you updated as we watch, wait and assess. Check back here as Lookout correspondents reach out across...

“For families with students at schools that will be open, we understand that some students may be absent due to evacuation or displacement. Please be sure to inform your school if your student will be absent.”

Sabbah added that the County Office of Education is not aware of other public school districts that are closing or canceling classes due to the storm. Both Happy Valley Elementary School District and Pacific Elementary School District in Davenport closed last week due to a request by the sheriff’s office, but they are not closing this week.

The county superintendent added that several private schools, such as Moreland Notre Dame School in Watsonville, have decided to close.

The alternative education sites that have also had classes canceled Monday and Tuesday include Pacific Coast Charter, Post-Secondary at Watsonville Youth Center, Infant Development Center at Watsonville High School, Adult Education and Virtual Academy. These sites are much smaller — about 170 students attend Pacific Coast Charter, for example.

Further north in the county, UC Santa Cruz is moving all instruction online on Monday due to the potential impacts from the storm.

“All classes on Monday, January 9, will be delivered using online or emergency remote instruction, and we encourage our campus community to limit nonessential travel,” administrators wrote in a campus message on Sunday. “We are monitoring the emerging weather situation closely and will update the campus by 3 p.m. Monday about whether limited emergency remote instruction will continue into Tuesday.”



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