- Adrian de Vernou ’22
Natural disasters are frequent occurrences in California, and recently, these disasters have been affecting Sacred Heart’s schedule and academic life, leading to reflection on the behalf of the administration. With fires sprouting everywhere, power being cut, and earthquakes on the verge of high magnitude, Sacred Heart has taken large steps in ensuring the safety and well being of its students, especially during these natural disasters.
On the 9th of October, just over a month ago, school was canceled because of an announcement made by PG&E claiming that high winds and temperatures in the area would cause a probable risk of fire, which would lead to a power shut-off in the area. However, after the incident, Sacred Heart still had power. Mr. Brian Bell, Assistant Principal of Student Life, says that “we canceled because we were concerned about commute conditions. We were not sure that all students would make it to school safely, so we, therefore, canceled school.” In regard to the PG&E claim that power will be shut off on or very close to campus, Mr. Sherman Hall, Director of Campus Safety and Security, states that, “You never have perfect information at the time. This will, however, most likely not happen [again].”
With fires becoming a constant phenomenon recently in California, Sacred Heart has been stepping up its air quality protocols very seriously, especially with what happened last year with the Paradise fires. Regarding this, Mr. Bell says that “there are air quality sensors on campus that are connected to an organization called PurpleAir. Every morning between 4:30 and 5:30, we check the air quality to make sure that it is healthy enough for us to be on campus for classes and sports.”
Fires are not the only natural disaster to hit California, though. Earthquakes are appearing more and more frequently and at higher magnitudes. A few weeks ago, an earthquake drill was carried out to ensure everyone still knew what to do in case of an earthquake. Mr. Bell states that “all buildings are built or retrofitted to code to have very strong structural support, even the Main Building, which has undergone two of California’s most devastating earthquakes, the 1906 and 1989 events.” In addition to having a strong infrastructure, the school is implementing new systems to ensure safety for the whole community. For example, SHP is a part of “Regroup, a service which sends messages to the school community, including parents, students, faculty, and staff.” Mr. Hall explains that “this is to ensure that if an emergency such as a high magnitude earthquake hits and school cannot continue to be conducted, there is an efficient way to communicate with your parents and get everyone back home safely.”
Sacred Heart has protocols to ensure every student’s safety in all situations, not only natural disasters. All faculty and staff members are equipped with an app that has everything they need to do in the case of an emergency. When asked about the future of safety protocols in the long-term, Mr. Hall responded by saying that “the school is committed to being better. Nothing is ever static. I think we are prepared, but we will absolutely make improvements because we are committed to student safety.” Sacred Heart is truly committed to the safety of its entire community in any given situation.