A potential power disaster was solved Tuesday morning at Santa Monica High School, ending a problematic weekend at the campus that led to a 4-day weekend for students.
On Saturday morning, two of the three wires providing the major electrical feed for Samohi’s campus shorted out, requiring a replacement fuse to be installed. The resulting power outage lasted through early Tuesday morning, causing Samohi to be closed for classes on Tuesday, extending an already long weekend for students due to the Labor Day holiday.
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton said that a similar power issue impacted the campus two weeks prior, with a fuse break on the side of power provider Southern California Edison (SCE). Over the weekend, however, it was confirmed that the problem was with Samohi’s major power feed, which was installed over a decade ago during construction of the campus Innovation Building.
“On Sunday, the high voltage electrical contractor determined the cause and made the repair,” Upton said. “This happening over Labor Day weekend made finding a replacement fuse very difficult. One was located by midday Sunday, but by that time the SCE crew was not available to re-energize the campus. SCE crews arrived (Tuesday) morning.”
Once the campus regained power Tuesday morning, district staff worked to bring the campus back up to use for afternoon athletic events and a normal Wednesday class schedule.
The Tuesday closure also included the Infant Toddler Center on campus, and project-based learning pathway students had their school day on the campus of Santa Monica College. Essential staff was called in to work, and all other SMMUSD students attended classes at their respective campuses.
Upton said that a provision in the district’s education code allows for school days to be missed and not made up for certain “allowable” reasons, a power outage being one of them.
“It is unfortunate that this situation has a snowball effect requiring the loss of a school day, however, we are unable to have school without lighting, including in restrooms, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), no phones, other electrical needs, and no use of the kitchen to provide food services for students,” SMMUSD Superintendent Dr. Antonio Shelton said in a Monday press release.
The Samohi kitchen serves as the district’s kitchen for all Santa Monica-based schools, with the power outage forcing a clean up and restocking of refrigerated food and supplies. Students that attended other SMMUSD schools on Tuesday were served a usual breakfast, as food was stored on sites prior to the outage. A lunch of pizza, salads and fruit was served, however, no special diet items were available on Tuesday. Families were encouraged to prepare lunch for students during the outage, and Shelton said that he and the district “appreciate parent cooperation” through the “challenge.”
Student athletes received instructions from coaches on arriving at school for games, with both the Samohi girls volleyball team and girls tennis squads competing on Tuesday.