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Fires prompt closures of more than 500 campuses, many in L.A. Unified

Hundreds of school campuses across the Southland, including colleges, closed down Thursday as fires continued to rage and powerful winds pushed poor air quality into other regions.
On social media, some students said they were relieved, while others expressed they were bummed.
The largest closure was in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which shut down all of its schools in the San Fernando Valley and a smaller batch on the Westside through Friday.
Los Angeles City firefighter Luis Vargas battles the Skirball Fire on Casiano Road in Bel-Air on Wednesday, Dec. 06, 2017. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Los Angeles Unified expanded on Thursday the list of school closures from 54 on Wednesday to 265 in the San Fernando Valley, and another 17 in the Bel Air area affected by the fire near the Skirball Cultural Center.
L.A. Unified does not expect it will lose any funding from the closures. The district plans to apply for a waiver from the requirement that it provide 180 days of instruction in the school year, and another waiver to receive the money it would otherwise lose from the absences, said spokeswoman Barbara Jones.
In all, hundreds of thousands of students were affected as schools closed their doors and evacuations spread across portions of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
“I want to commend schools for their rapid actions to protect students and school staff and for alerting parents of closures,” California Department of Education Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a statement.
As of Thursday afternoon, 207,000 students were impacted in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where 352 and 146 campuses, respectively, cancelled school, said Robert Oakes, spokesman for the California Department of Education. The Santa Barbara Unified School District also announced on its website that it was shutting down its 24 schools, which teach more than 15,000 students.
The closures are hitting schools just as teachers are wrapping up courses before the winter holidays.
“I know their brains fall out the Wednesday before vacation, so I try to have everything done before,” said Kate Mansfield, a math and science teacher at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood. “That’s not going to happen now.”
Other districts telling students to stay home, at least through Thursday, Dec. 7, include the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Some charter and private schools closed for the rest of the week, including the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in San Fernando and the El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills.
Several college campuses, where students are either in the midst of finals or preparing to take them next week, also cancelled classes on Thursday, including UCLA, Cal State Northridge, Los Angeles Valley College, Santa Monica College, Los Angeles Mission College and Los Angeles Pierce College.
Some administrators said it was necessary to cancel because fire conditions had affected air quality and transportation, others said closures were more of a precaution.
On social media, news of the closures was greeted with both dread and glee. “So the fires are causing my classes to be cancelled. I’m not mad,” wrote one student. Another included a little prayer emoticon in hers: “Hopefully they are put out soon. Did I mention I have a final today?”

classes r cancelled due to fires again and I know that burning in hellfire is probably not the best way to go but with finals here i’m just. ….
— cowboy tree top (@bandageblack) December 7, 2017

That moment your child barges into your room lecturing you about you still being in bed, and you let him finish before telling him his school is closed due to the fire? Yeah, that… #momof3 #ThomasFire
— Marlena A. Geyer (@mageyer) December 7, 2017

UCLA classes cancelled & UCSB wearing air filter masks… these fires are no joke rn
— jas (@jasmintea_) December 7, 2017

@UCLA has cancelled classes for Thursday, December 7 due to uncertainties caused by fires. Hospital, clincs, and other campus operations remain open. More info at #staysafe
— #UCLALuskin (@UCLALuskin) December 7, 2017

my classes got cancelled tomorrow because of the poor air quality from the fires
— love, lav (@BIROSADlAZ) December 6, 2017
Source: Oc Register

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