Get Murrieta Unified School District to implement effective wildfire evacuation plans
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On Thursday, December 7th, 2017 the Liberty Fire broke out in Murrieta resulting in 4 schools being evacuated: Monte Vista Elementary School, Lisa J. Mails Elementary School, Dorothy McElhinney Middle School and Vista Murrieta High School. During the fire and evacuation, the communication to parents was either extremely poor or non-existent and the evacuation process left way too much opportunity for improvement. All 4 schools reside in areas surrounded by open land where fires can, and do, happen. Knowing the threat of fires to the schools in the area and the probability of them happening at some point, we as parents expect the Murrieta Unified School District to have solid and effective communication and evacuation plans to ensure the safety of our children who we entrust to the schools. While the schools have effective protocols/plans in the event of a fire on campus, those protocols are ineffective in the event of a wildfire as we witnessed this past Thursday. The following is how each school handled the most recent wildfire evacuations.
Monte Vista Elementary School: A recorded message (in English only) was sent to parents notifying them of the evacuation and to come pick up their children. The children were evacuated from their classrooms and lined up on the playground in lines by class. Upon arriving to the school, parents waited in a long line as their students were released 1-by-1. The lack of speed of the process caused increased anxiety for parents who could see the fire growing across the street from the school, many of them racing back to their homes to prepare to evacuate. We as parents of MVUSD children are demanding that the District re-evaluates the protocol for evacuating and releasing elementary school children so that the process is swift to ensure the safety of everyone. We are also demanding that timely communication be sent out to parents in both English and Spanish.
Dorothy McElhinney Middle School & Lisa J. Mails Elementary School: Parents received a recorded message (in English only) notifying them that students were being released due to the fire and could be picked up immediately. The schools share the same property and in the event of an emergency such as a fire, both schools are and were evacuated at the same time. With the property that they share, there is ONE way in and ONE way out of the school grounds by car for parents. We as parents of MVUSD children are demanding that the District creates and implements an effective and safe plan to expedite evacuation process and the traffic caused by both schools releasing children at the same time so parents can get in and out faster for the safety of everyone. We are also demanding that timely communication be sent out to parents in both English and Spanish.
Vista Murrieta High School: Parent at VMHS received absolutely NO notification from the school that they were being evacuated. Furthermore, students were essentially released via evacuation from the buildings with their classes and told to call their rides home leaving them to stand around outside as the fire grew and progressed towards the school as they scrambled to figure a way to get out of there. As a parent of a student there, I was completely appalled by the non-existent communication notifying me that my student was being evacuated. In addition, releasing 4000 kids to essentially figure out for themselves how to get out of the area is NOT an effective wildfire evacuation plan. Many of the students don't drive yet or don't have their own car. The school is surrounded by dry brush and could have easily become surrounded by flames. The protocol of having parents come into an area being evacuated to pick up their children caused a huge traffic jam. The process brought hundreds of vehicles into an area that was threatened by the fire putting additional lives at risk and clogging the streets for emergency response vehicles. There was zero supervision or concern for the ultimate safety of our children at that school which is completely unacceptable. We as parents of MVUSD children are demanding that the District creates and implements a plan to evacuate all students off of school property and relocate them to somewhere safe where parents can calmly and safely pick up their children. We are also demanding that timely communication be sent out to parents in both English and Spanish.
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