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PG&E Power Shutoff Affects Distance Learning

By Shrida Pandey, Online News Editor

// As students rely on technology now more than ever due to distance learning, days consist of back-to-back Zooms, uploading work through Canvas, and partaking in online activities. This week, however, all of that came to a halt due to a power shutoff in Lafayette.

   As a result of high winds throughout the Bay Area, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) implemented a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) that began this Sunday in order to prevent fires from starting in Lafayette. 

   PG&E sent out an alert on Friday afternoon about the PSPS, and due to the last minute notice, teachers rushed to notify students and upload the upcoming weeks’ asynchronous work for students to access before the power went out. 

   “Like everything this year, [the power outage] asked us to be flexible and adjust, which is frustrating but seems to be the norm right now,” Leadership teacher Katherine Walton said. 

   Because only half of Lafayette faced the power shutoff, Monday cohort was still available for the students who had power. 

   “During cohort, we had some people missing because of the power outage. It just made cohort feel different, and we were all confused on what was happening,” junior Stella Bobrowsky said. 

   Although the PSPS was originally supposed to end Monday night, PG&E extended it to Tuesday because of the continued high winds. As a result, the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) administration asked students affected by the power outage to notify the attendance office. 

   “I wasn’t able to attend class because of the power outage so I ended up telling the attendance office and just doing work for different classes that did not require technology,” junior Sylvia Deng said. 

   Because half of the student body still did not have power on Tuesday, most teachers only took attendance and directed students to complete asynchronous activities. 

   “Teachers were flexible and let us either stay in the Zooms if we wanted instructions or just checking [us] in and letting us do the work on our own,” sophomore Ashley Donner said. 

   The changes caused some teachers to push back exam dates and lessons. 

   “[Due to the power shutoff,] my classes were affected a bit. I had more asynchronous work and less actual class time. [Also,] some other assignments and a test for me got pushed back,” senior Lynne Zhao said.

   The power outage also impacted student activities. Leadership moved the Acalanes Haunted House from Oct. 26 to Oct. 30 and Wicked Week shifted to the week of Nov. 2. 

   “We had planned this haunted hallway [and Wicked Week] for the student body and the community, [but] due to the high winds, all the decorations would have flown away, and due to the power outage, it was a very high-stress situation for many people, [so we decided to postpone it],” Associate Student Body Secretary and junior Franny Daughters said. 

   On Tuesday afternoon, PG&E lifted the PSPS, allowing students and teachers to resume a typical week of distance learning.

   “I’m glad that PG&E turned power back on and allowed for distance learning to resume. Especially now that all schooling is online, it’s a lot harder to make sure you’re keeping up with your work when there’s no face-to-face communication with your teachers or peers,” senior Jessica Chu said.

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