LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Students from a pair of Porter Ranch-area schools returned to class Tuesday, Jan. 12, but not at the campuses they’re used to, thanks to a continuing gas leak that has been causing illnesses and prompting residents to
temporarily move out of the area.
On Dec. 17, the LAUSD board declared an emergency at Porter Ranch Community School and Castlebay Lane Charter School in response to the leak from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. The board decided to temporarily move students to alternate locations.
Porter Ranch Community School is located about two miles from the Aliso Canyon facility, which has been leaking natural gas since late October. Castlebay Lane Charter school is about one mile from the site.
The roughly 1,100 kindergarten through 8th-grade students at Porter Ranch Community School returned to class at 8:25 a.m. on the campus of Northridge Middle School. The 770 kindergarten through 5th-grade students at Castlebay resumed school at 8:30 a.m. at Sunny Brae Elementary School in Winnetka.
The bulk of LAUSD students returned to class on Jan. 11, but students at the Porter Ranch schools had an extra day to prepare.
Porter Ranch Community School principal Mary Melvin told ABC7 that absences had been increasing at the campus.
“Toward the end we had right around 200 students absent, so it’s quite a few — many because of the relocation, some because of the side effects of the (gas), depending on what families were comfortable with,” she said. “But it’s wonderful to have them all back.”
The two schools “have been significantly disrupted by the gas leak,” according to a staff report presented to the LAUSD board last month. “Absenteeism and visits to the health offices at each of these schools has significantly increased.
“Furthermore, since the leak was first reported, families are opting
out of attending school and are instead choosing independent study for their children, while others have transferred to a different school. Additional requests for independent study programs and school transfers continue.”
The students are expected to remain at the relocated classrooms until the end of the school year.