By Xenia Shih Bion, California Health Care Foundation, September 14, 2020
The new school year was already off to an abnormal start for the Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District when the wildfires erupted in Santa Cruz County. The weekend after students started school virtually on August 12, lightning strikes sparked the CZU Lightning Complex fire, putting all learning plans on hold as residents of Bonny Doon fled the area.
“Staff members and students have lost their homes as a result of the fires, and many still don’t know what their home is like,” Mike Heffner, superintendent-principal of the school district, told Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle. “I put my head down at night just shocked.”
It was another blow to the elementary school’s 130 students, many of whom are too young to understand the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting disruptions to their lives. Heffner is so worried about his students that he said he could barely sleep. One student who evacuated got in touch to tell him that she had made sure to take her district-issued Chromebook laptop computer. She chose it over other belongings so she could continue distance learning, but the school has suspended instruction through September 21 because of the fires.