One of the main priorities of local schools is to provide a safe and secure learning environment for students, which includes preparing for various circumstances. In California, high winds and extremely dry conditions can create extreme fire danger, requiring schools to prepare for the varied and complex impact of wildfires, smoke and/or poor air quality. ‘air. All schools in San Diego County have established a fire protection and evacuation plan and work regularly with public safety agencies to coordinate preparedness efforts to protect life, property and critical infrastructure, and to clearly define procedures and protocols when evacuation or voluntary dismissal becomes necessary.
Schools should ensure their plan is updated before there is a fire. If your district or school does not have a school protection and evacuation plan, now is the time to work with local law enforcement and fire departments to create one. It includes an evacuation decision tree, response protocols and procedures, communication materials and other resources. Share this plan, along with your school’s comprehensive school safety plan, with families each year. Contact San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) Safety Coordinator Tim Ware at [email protected] for additional assistance.
The following resources are intended to help our school communities prepare for wildfires, as well as the impacts resulting from poor air quality. For more information on how a specific campus is preparing for these situations, please contact your district or school office.
Skip to section: District/School Readiness Considerations
SDCOE Family Readiness Resource Support
Resources for monitoring local conditions
Air quality: AirNowa web page supported by several government agencies, lists current and forecast air quality for San Diego County.
Time: This National Weather Service page provides current and forecast weather conditions.
Regional Emergency Management: The San Diego County Office of Emergency Services provides updates on all local emergency response on the Webpage sdcountyemergency.com.
Considerations for Modified Operations or School Closures
If there is a wildfire or if the air quality index drops following a fire, the San Diego County Office of Education encourages school leaders to refer to the directives of the Recommendations for activities on air quality in schoolswhich were created by the California Department of Education in partnership with the California Air Resources Board, California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, Association of California School Administrators, and California School Boards Association.
Decisions will be made to minimize risk to students and staff. Some steps may include:
- Move recess and/or lunch indoors
- Move physical education indoors
- Cancellation of outdoor activities or extracurricular sports
The decision to close schools is made by each local education agency and is based on recommendations from local health, law enforcement, and fire agencies, as well as answers to questions such as:
- Is there an imminent danger to the site(s) such as fire, downed power lines, etc. ?
- Are there significant traffic delays or road closures that will affect bus routes or prevent evacuation?
- How would the loss of power affect student safety?
- Are wind levels and air quality safe to travel to/from school?
- Would it be safer to move the students to another location rather than close them?
- Would districts/schools have enough staff to cover classrooms and offices, given traffic and road conditions?
If in-person instruction is temporarily unavailable due to poor air quality or other impacts of a nearby wildfire, each local education agency (school district, charter school, or private school) would take decisions regarding the opening or closing of one or more schools or alternative learning formats (e.g. distance learning).
Be Aware, Be Prepared is a 4th grade unit of study that strengthens students’ knowledge of Earth’s geological systems, natural disasters, and disaster preparedness through print and technology sources and collaborative research. It was developed by the County Office of Emergency Services in conjunction with the San Diego County Office of Education. It is free to download or order a printed copy. For more information, please visit the Ready San Diego website or email Marielena Castellanos at the County Emergency Services Office at [email protected]
Other sites that can engage students in learning include CAL FIRE’s wildfire data and WildFire Alert, created by a consortium of universities providing fire cameras and tools to help firefighters and first responders. Teachers, students and community members can view San Diego regional cameras and follow statewide fire updates.
Fire Studies Program
The more students know about fire science, the better they can prevent and prepare for wildfires. The SDCOE has three wildfire-focused environmental phenomena resources that are aligned with next-generation science standards:
In the event of a school closure during a forest fire
SDCOE has designed K-12 study units that focus on essential grade-level learnings in each content area. These units have been deliberately designed to integrate content, provide flexibility and choice. Units of study link content in the following areas: English Language Arts, English Language Development, Mathematics, Science, History/Social Studies, Arts, Computing and Physical Education through Integrated Kindergarten Studies to 5th grade and thematic units from 6th to high school. Opportunities for assessment (formative and summative) and student feedback are built in and intentionally expanded. They can be downloaded and customized for free.
In the past, SDCOE has provided technical support and access to computers at our main campus; information on how to clean up safely after a fire, including descriptions of appropriate safety equipment and procedures; crisis support teams to help adults and children in affected areas; and materials on how to help students overcome any anxiety or emotional distress the fires may have created or made worse. Additionally, during a wildfire, SDCOE provides real-time updates on its website and social media channels, and works with the media to disseminate information widely throughout the county.
If the state makes personal protective equipment such as N95 masks available for distribution to school personnel, students, and community members in the event of poor air conditions, the SDCOE will notify school leaders. establishment and will coordinate the distribution.
Districts and schools have emergency and wildfire preparedness plans and regularly hold drills to practice evacuation routes and emergency procedures. It is equally important that families are also prepared in case of an emergency or fire nearby. Familiarize yourself with your child’s school plan, as it can inform your own family’s emergency planning.
Be ready : According to the Red Cross, in a wildfire “you may need to leave your home quickly to stay safe. Know where you will go, how you will get there and where you will be staying. Have different escape routes from your home and community. Practice these routes so that everyone in your household knows them. Make sure you understand how your community will react to a wildfire.
The Red Cross offers tips and resources to help you gather emergency supplies and make a plan to stay connected.
Make sure your kids are part of the process too. The Red Cross has created age-appropriate digital resources and videos about wildfires and other common hazards to help families and educators better prepare children for emergencies. Visit redcross.org/youthprep for more details.
The burns institute has downloadable family and community resources in English and Spanish that focus on home fire and burn prevention as well as wildfire resources such as family fire escape planning.
Monitor local conditions: For the latest emergency updates in English and Spanish, visit www.sdcountyemergency.com, and download the SD Emergency app. If you are affected by the fire and need to speak to someone by phone about evacuations, shelters, road closures and other not urgent disaster services, call 211. If you are hard of hearing, dial 711 and ask to be connected to 858-300-1211.
You may also consider registering your mobile phone and email address with AlertSanDiego to receive evacuation orders/warnings, protective measures and information related to the disaster. Listed and unlisted landlines are already included in the database and do not need to be registered.
During a forest fire: In the event of a fire, there are steps people can take to protect themselves from smoke and poor air quality.
- In areas where you smell smoke, it is advisable to limit physical activity and, if possible, stay indoors to limit your exposure.
- If you are bothered by the smoke or are sensitive to it, you should stay away from it until it goes away. You can take shelter inside, but if there is smoke inside, leaving is the best idea.
- If you are advised to stay indoors, keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed unless it is extremely hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to keep outside smoke from coming inside.