As you are aware, the nearby fires have impacted over 90,000 acres. An increase in winds have contributed towards the spread and will make it more difficult to contain over the next few days. In addition, air quality in and around the affected areas continues to be a concern.
We had hoped that we would regain access to the campus this morning, but the Fire Department has maintained a closure of the roads leading to school, so we have not been able to access it today to begin our fire mitigation process. We are hopeful that we will gain access tomorrow. Once we are able to return to the campus we will have a better idea of the timeline and next steps to our reopening. Out of an abundance of caution and to ensure the safety, health and well being of our students, faculty and staff, we are remaining closed through this Wednesday. It is our hope that beginning on Thursday we will be able to operate school in an off-site location, however, there are many logistical and licensing considerations.
PRE – SCHOOL FAMILIES:
We are working diligently to secure a space for us to function until we are able to return to campus, that being said…
*** PLEASE NOTE***
We CAN NOT operate without Licensing Approval from the State Agency—Community Care Licensing. They need to approve any off-site location. It is of utmost importance to all of us that the children are in a safe and healthy environment.
We have reached out to our Analyst at Community Care Licensing , but their office is closed today, Monday, for Veterans Day, so getting answers to our questions and space approval is taking longer than we would like. We truly appreciate your patience. Please know we are working diligently to have a place to function as a pre-school but it will depend on our licensing analyst. We know this is creating challenges for many of you who work full time, so please know we are doing our best to be back running as soon as possible We are also exploring options for the teachers and students to reconnect and will update you as soon as we have a plan.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL FAMILIES
Please know we are working diligently to bring the kids back together and we will notify you as soon as we have confirmed a location.
As testament to our community’s resilience and compassion, many of you are asking how you can support members of the community in need. As such, we’ve partnered with several other Jewish organizations to identify resources that people need – and match those with resources people can offer.
For your own awareness, we recommend staying tuned to your local news, local fire department twitter and local county emergency notifications. In addition:
• Monitor Air Quality through a reliable tool. AirNow (https://airnow.gov) is a great resource that enables you to enter your city or Zip Code to assess your air quality. Regardless of what tool you’re using, note that most tools are monitoring the air quality based on a focused period of time, typically 2 – 12 hours in the past. If you smell smoke or see ash, the air quality is unhealthy – in spite of what it might show on the monitoring tool. Trust your senses.
• In addition to local resources, it may be beneficial to track statewide fire(s) status through sites such as Cal Fire (http://www.fire.ca.gov/general/firemaps). Take note of mandatory evacuations, road closures, safe zones and the state of our neighboring communities.
• If you are in need of emergency assistance, call 9-1-1.
• Take precaution when returning to your home, and utilize our After-Fire guide for safety information (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fMyzdRnk7EUwjL8K_UBKWDNAge4jGQg3Rs13NVI6VA4/edit).
• Please note that the Los Angeles Jewish Federation has set up a hotline that will be manned from 8am-8pm through the weekend to help triage those in need of housing, counseling, evacuation center information, and emergency loans from our partners at Jewish Free Loan. The hotline number is: 323-761-8100
We always knew what an amazing community Ilan Ramon Day School/Heschel West was, but times of difficulty provide us with a reminder of just how special our community is. The outpouring of love and support from our families, alumni parents, alumni students, grandparents, community leaders, community members and friends has been overwhelming.
The list of thank you’s is long and growing by the minute, but we wanted to take a moment and show our appreciation to the following people.
Thank you to all our families who reached out and housed fellow IRDS families who have been evacuated. Thank you to our Administration and Board of Directors for quickly springing into action with special appreciation to Heidi Hershman for her leadership, Jesse Zilberstein for being our communication point person, Nate Akiva for providing us his expertise in insurance and loss mitigation arena, and David Horenstein for advice and logistical support on the rebuilding process. As always, the guidance and support from Mark Lainer is greatly appreciated!
Many of our parents have approached us to lend support in their areas of expertise. Special thank you to Scott Huml for being part of our fire mitigation team, to Amit Zilberstein for helping to document the state of the campus and evacuate student files and other important items when we were given access to campus for a short while, to Jeremy Reitman, and Morris Halperin for their stealth skills in being able to get onto campus when nobody else could, to assess the damage and alleviate the fear of the unknown for us.
Our IRDS community has felt immense support and strength from our Alumni families who built our amazing school and still stand beside us and with us today. Thank you to the Polsons, Grubergers, Lewitts, Geros, Friedlands and more who reached out within minutes of learning about the damage to our campus and have galvanized the alumni troops to participate in our rebuilding process.
Our little community is made stronger by being part of the larger Jewish Community in the Valley and beyond. Thank you to Rabbi Sarah Hronsky from Temple Beth Hillel for her tireless efforts over the last several days, thank you to Mark Shpall and de Toledo High School for opening up their campus for our Havdallah gathering and for continuing to offer their support. Thank you to Rabbi Julia Weisz and Rabbi Kipnes for there tremendous leadership in operating a day camp for our community, Rabbi Camras and Rabbi Vogel for reaching out and offering to help in any way we need. Also thank you to Kadima Day School, Valley Beth Shalom, Heschel Day School, Brandeis Bardin, Temple Etz Chaim, Adat Ariel, The Los Angeles Jewish Federation, URJ CA Camps, Emek Hebrew Academy and our partners at the Summer Art Academy for their support and offers of assistance.
Finally, a special thank you to our students and alumni students. Social media has been a powerful tool over the last several days and it is heartwarming to see our current and former students sharing messages of concern and support for one another, each other’s families, and for our school. Thank you for living what we have worked so hard to teach you. Your neshamah is strong and has shined brightly for everyone to see!
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep you informed of important school and community updates.
Please continue to remain safe.