Lights out

Jocelyn Preciado, Staff Reporter

During fifth period on January 23rd, West High’s power went out and classrooms were left in the dark. West High remained powerless for the rest of the day, and throughout the following day, power was on and off. A generator was brought in and the power has remained consistent from then on. The power outages clearly affected teachers’ plans within classrooms, administration’s daily activities from attempting to take attendance and communication with teachers and students’ ability to focus with the flickering power and noticeably colder and darker classrooms.

There is no current explanation for what has caused the issue in the first place, but a basic explanation for West High’s electricity issue is that the bus duct between PG&E’s transformer and TUSD/WHS’s switch gear is no longer transforming the power correctly. West High is being powered by a diesel-fueled generator and the original source is predicted to be fully functioning by the end of April.

Associate Superintendent of Business Services, Casey Goodall explained how there was no obvious indication of anything wrong or something bad going to occur when the situation happened. “There are some things you can’t anticipate happening, but in a power failure we expect the teachers to kind of help us think through what the answer is specifically for them…and working with school-sited administration, all kind of pitched in and tried to find the best way to get themselves through the few days where things were up in the air.” Goodall stated that in his twenty-four years, he has never seen a situation like West High’s occur, but assured that the district is doing the same thing they have done before during the 1983 power outages (a collapsed transmission power near Tracy that affected approximately five million people on the west coast). When questioned on the district’s decision to continue regular school hours during this time, Goodall explained how there is a required amount of time students are meant to be in class and how the amount lost would have to be made up at the end of the school year. “It’s especially important to seniors because if they’re not meeting the requirement, then they won’t graduate on time.”

Senior Mathew Salazar explained that his initial reaction was amusement as the power was inconsitstent throughout the day. “I wasn’t exactly happy about it [and] I wanted to go home,” stated Salazar. He did agree that the power failures during class time were a distraction, but “now it’s more of a talking point about something that happened more than anything.” Salazar explained how he did not think there was any good preparation within classrooms or administration for situations like this. “I wish classes were cut, but that’s a biased opinion.”

Despite the power failures, there is no anticipation to disturb renovation plans to West High this upcoming summer. The school’s power is now stable on the generator and no longer a distraction in the classrooms and students are being kept inside to meet requirements and ultimately to be safe off the streets.