Smoky conditions caused by high winds and two fires, the Thomas fire in Ventura County and the Creek fire in Sylmar, have led Santa Monica officials end school early and cancel after school activities.

“We recognize that the nearby fires have caused very smoky conditions for our schools. After careful consideration, the Emergency Operations Center team determined that we will end school early…” Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Ben Drati wrote in a letter to parents Tuesday morning. “After school activities are also cancelled.”

The letter, which was posted to social media, went on to say, “We also recognize that the conditions for teaching and learning are far less than ideal. We thank the entire SMMUSD staff for doing your best to cope under these adverse conditions and to ensure the well-being of our students.”

Drati listed instructions for teachers and staff in the letter to assure student safety:

· Keep students and staff indoors. Limit, to the maximum extent possible, being outdoors.
· Monitor the well-being of your students to ensure no students are experiencing extreme medical distress. If any are, please contact your nurse or Health Office Specialist, or call 911 if necessary.
· Monitor your personal well-being and the well-being of your colleagues. Some staff members may be impacted more than others. Please work together to make the best of this difficult situation.
· Remain on site to be released by your principal. Our schools are responsible for the supervision of all students until they exit the campus. We need to be sure we have enough supervision for students who need to remain on campus.

The two fires together have resulted in tens of thousands of acres burned, hundreds of buildings destroyed, and thousands of people evacuated, though the Thomas fire, which started last night, is orders of magnitude larger than the Creek fire in Sylmar, which started early Tuesday morning, according to the Los Angeles Times.

For updates from Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, officials say parents should monitor their email or Facebook.

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