Storm-Preparedness Plan keeps students safe
Posted on 11/14/2022
Mondays with Maria Cover Image



Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hello, I'm Maria Vazquez Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, and this is Mondays with Maria.

Nancy Alvarez: Hi everybody, I'm Nancy Alvarez.

Jaime Holmes: And I'm Jamie Holmes.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Well, I hope that everyone experienced minimal impacts from the storm and that everyone is safe and ready to start school.

Jaime Holmes: So let's talk a little bit about the process here. So the decision was made for early dismissal on Wednesday and then schools were closed Thursday and Friday. How does the district go about that process?

Dr. Maria Vazquez:
That's a great question. Our team works closely with Orange County's emergency management team to monitor and track the storm and its path. When we meet, we look at wind speeds, we look at the duration of the storm and then we make decisions about closures. The reason we decided to have early dismissal last Wednesday is because the wind, the high winds, were supposed to enter our area by eight o'clock and we want to make sure all of our buses were off the road and our bus drivers were able to get back to their home safely.

Nancy Alvarez: Yeah, and buses are a big factor when you guys make this decision, and I don't think families realize that.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: True. So our buses are not able to run when we have sustained winds over 35 miles per hour. So it could be sunny outside or minimal rain, but if we have sustained winds over 35 miles per hour, our buses cannot operate. And that is again, the reason why we closed early on Wednesday and the storm was Thursday.

Jaime Holmes: And after the storm passed. What was the process then to go about determining what schools could open?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So in order for us to be able to open school, we need to ensure that they are safe. That includes making sure they have power, that there's internet access, that there's no flooding, damage. Additionally, we need to ensure that our buses are able, are able to travel safely and that the roads are clear of debris. And that was what took place Friday.

Nancy Alvarez: Number one thing on my mom group chat right now is makeup days because we lost days for Ian and now we lost two more. So where do we stand on the makeup days for these storms?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: I was really hoping there wasn't going to be a question about makeup days, but I understand it's on everybody's mind. What are we going to do? We have not made a decision about that yet. We know that families already have plans for the week of Thanksgiving, which would be the days that we would normally use as makeup days based on the calendar committee and their decision for prioritization of days. But I don't know that that's what we're going to do. We're in conversations with our classroom teachers association. We will also be talking with OESPA to see what is best for not only our families, but our employees as well.

Jaime Holmes: And you got all those snow days you can use.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Right. Yeah. You know, that's great. Snow days. That's so handy. Oh gosh.

Nancy Alvarez: Well, Dr. Vasquez, we so appreciate you taking the time to provide us with this update and give us sort of this inside information on how things work when these big decisions are made in the district.

Jaime Holmes: Yeah. I have a much better idea of exactly how this process works.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Well, thank you for joining me in the conversation. These decisions truly are difficult, but are always made with the best interest of our students and staff in mind. Thank you so much for joining us today, and we'll see you next week for another Mondays with Maria.