OUHSD Criticized for Keeping Schools in Session During ‘Hazardous’ Conditions


Jonah Arellano

Smoke from the Hill Fire was seen from Cam High on Thursday, Nov 8.

Eric Burschinger, Staff Writer

The Oxnard Union High School District recently received criticism from students and parents for their decision to re-open schools on Tuesday, Nov. 13 after initially announcing all schools would be closed.

On Monday afternoon, Superintendent Dr. Penelope DeLeon sent out an official letter stating that all schools would be closed Tuesday due to poor air quality. DeLeon said that student and staff safety is of “utmost priority” and the district had “learned a lot of lessons from the Thomas Fire” in regards to changing conditions and school closure.

At 6 P.M. that same day, DeLeon sent out another official notice that reversed the district’s previous decision to cancel school on Tuesday.

An official tweet was also posted on OUHSD’s official Twitter page at 8:06 P.M. On the post, students filled the comment section with memes and satire to show their frustrations over the district’s decision.

During fifth period on Tuesday, Cam High’s principal Dr. Kim Stephenson made an announcement over the intercom at Cam High asking students to “be respectful on social media” after some of the comments came across as inappropriate.

According to AirNow.gov, an air quality measuring site, the levels in Camarillo on Tuesday morning reached 453 on the Air Quality Index Scale, which is considered hazardous. School was cancelled last year during the Thomas Fire when the Air Quality Index was lower.

Sabrina Gonzales, a senior with asthma, said, “[On Tuesday], I kept coughing and sneezing; my head hurt, and my allergies were the worst. I just wanted to go home.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a letter was sent out by Stephenson explaining why the district decided to reopen the school. The letter mentioned that the fires in Newbury Park were contained. “Within hours of closing, the fires were contained, with our forecast changing to good to moderate air quality…” said Stephenson.

Stephenson also included an official apology for the confusion caused.

Fox 11 Los Angeles covered the story, showing a picture of students at Channel Islands High School in hazy classrooms wearing masks. Cam High’s photography teacher Abigail Santana was also pictured wearing a mask.

All schools in OUHSD were closed on Wednesday, Nov. 14 due to the unpredictable nature of air quality and the Woolsey fire.