L.A. Unified closes schools Monday to ensure campuses are safe after Hilary

L.A. schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho speaks into a microphone.
LAUSD Supt. Alberto Carvalho, who visited campuses last week, announced that schools will be closed Monday to conduct safety inspections after Tropical Storm Hilary.
(Al Seib/For The Times)

Los Angeles Unified schools will be closed on Monday to ensure that campuses can be fully inspected after Tropical Storm Hilary passes through and that families and employees can avoid potentially hazardous morning travel, Supt. Alberto Carvalho announced Sunday afternoon.

Other school systems — including several in hard-hit areas — also were expected to close campuses for the day. As of early Sunday night, 16 of 80 school districts in L.A. County had announced a Monday shutdown, a decision under the jurisdiction of local district officials. The Pasadena Unified, Lancaster and Keppel Union districts were among those that posted word online of one-day closures. Keppel, like Lancaster, is in the Antelope Valley.

Flood water rush past an elementary school campus.
Floodwaters rush past Pearblossom Elementary School, part of the Keppel Union School District in the Antelope Valley, whose campuses will be closed Monday.
(Chris Minsal)

In Riverside County, Palm Springs schools will be closed. In San Diego County, the storm will postpone what would have been the opening day of school for San Diego Unified.

L.A. Unified began its school year on Aug. 14.

In Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school system will be setting up food distribution sites, just as it did during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents are advised to follow the school district and their campus on social media and to remain alert to phone, text and email advisories for detailed information.

“The peak of this storm will take place in the middle of the night, depriving us of our ability to inspect schools or determine access to schools to be safe,” Carvalho said.

He said students are “usually walking to school” as early as about 5:30 a.m., and bus drivers report as early as 4:30 a.m.

“That is when some of the worst conditions are expected to take place,” Carvalho said. “In addition to that, we cannot safely operate our bus fleet that transports in excess of 30,000 students every single day ... with wind speeds at 35 miles an hour or higher. We expect speeds well in excess of 35 miles an hour — in fact, gusts reaching 70 miles per hour.”


“We cannot determine if there are power lines down or tree limbs down, potentially bringing injury or worse to our students or workforce,” he added.

He also noted that employees — about 75,000 — come from across Southern California in the district of about 430,000 students.

Flooding in front of South Gate High School
Flooding on Sunday afternoon in the wake of rain from Tropical Storm Hilary in front of South Gate High School. Citing a need to take precautions, the Los Angeles Unified School District and many other local school systems announced Sunday that campuses would be closed on Monday.
(Courtesy of L.A. Unified Board District 5)

“The ability of those workforce members ranging from bus drivers to custodial staff to maintenance individuals to teachers themselves may be compromised because of the impact that the storm will have in their local communities,” Carvalho said.

The cancellation applies to all school-related activities involving students, including after-school care and sports.

Carvalho said he expected that the operators of independent charter schools — who enroll more than 100,000 students — will follow the lead of L.A. Unified. He advised families in charter schools to check in with their school leaders.


However, employees will not necessarily have a day off.

Tropical Storm Hilary rolled into Southern California, bringing steady, often heavy rain and ‘life-threatening’ flooding.

Aug. 20, 2023

School administrators as well as maintenance and operations staff are expected to report to schools around 10 a.m. if they can — and to alert supervisors if they cannot.

Teachers are expected to upload assignments to students starting around 10 a.m. Live teaching will not be taking place online. Teachers should not report to their campuses.

A similar scenario unfolded Sunday for families of Pasadena Unified.

“With the safety and well-being of our students, employees and their families as our highest priority, we have decided to close PUSD schools,” interim Supt. Elizabeth J. Blanco posted online. “We want everyone to stay safe and avoid any unnecessary travel or exposure to dangerous road conditions. This includes athletic events and any third-party activities on PUSD campuses.”

In Pasadena, 10 a.m. also is the call time for administrators, maintenance and operations staff to report for duty. District officials are organizing food distribution sites for students.

San Diego Unified is moving its first day of school from Monday to Tuesday, Supt. Lamont Jackson posted online.


“I remain hopeful that the storm will continue to decrease in its intensity as it moves through our region,” Jackson said. “However, given the uncertainty of the weather and our need to thoroughly assess any impacts to our facilities, all schools will be closed to students on Monday.”

“The first day of school brings joy and excitement for students, families and staff,” he added. “I thank our entire community for their understanding, and for our collective desire to have the best first day of school possible for our students, staff, and families.”