De La Torre Students Reunited With Parents

Los Angeles (Sept. 23, 2014)– Students from George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School in Wilmington reunited with parents today after they were temporarily relocated to a campus in San Pedro due to the nearby fire at the Port of Los Angeles.

The K-5 school of more than 700 students opened this morning, along with several schools in the area, on a modified shelter-in-place schedule with no outdoor activities. The air filtration system at De La Torre and the majority of schools in the area is superior to those typically used at hospitals.

“We chose not to close De La Torre before school started today because our health and environmental experts determined the enhanced air filtration at the school provided a higher level of protection for students and staff,” Superintendent John E. Deasy said.

Meanwhile, district officials prepared a back-up plan with school buses and lunches on standby should the De La Torre Elementary School students need to be re-located. When the wind shifted shortly before lunchtime, sending the smoke closer to the school, students and staff were quickly relocated to a safer environment at the John M. and Muriel Olguin Campus of San Pedro High School. They were returned to De La Torre for dismissal.
The Office of Environmental Health and Safety will continue to monitor the air quality in schools throughout the coming days. Outdoor athletic events and practices have been canceled today.

Like De La Torre, 20 schools in the Wilmington and San Pedro area also have the new filtration system thanks to a partnership with the South Coast Air Quality Management District, L. A. Unified’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety, and the Maintenance and Operations Branch.

An additional 11 schools in that vicinity are also slated to get the new Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 16 air filtration systems in the next few months. The number, in this case 16, indicates the efficiency of the air filter. The higher the number, the more efficient the air filter is at removing particles including larger quantities of extremely small contaminant. Hospitals typically use a MERV 14 filter. The MERV 16 filter used by LAUSD is the maximum available.

The safety of students and staff is a priority in L. A. Unified. All schools are expected to be open on Wednesday.

Contact: Gayle Pollard-Terry, (213) 241-6766