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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 12:29 am | Fair 47º


UCSB Delays Final Exams Until January, Westmont & SBCC Cancel Classes For Week

Most South Coast K-12 schools cancel classes for the rest of the week as the Thomas Fire burns into the county

Citing “extraordinary circumstances” due to the Thomas Fire, UCSB decided to reschedule this week's final exams for January, Chancellor Henry T. Yang said.

Meanwhile, Westmont College has canceled classes for the week and final exams will not occur on campus. Instead, college leaders instructed faculty to create alternate plans as appropriate and notify students. 

And Santa Barbara City College faculty, staff and students have been advised the campuses are closed this week and will reopen Dec. 18.

Power outages disrupting UCSB campus computer systems became the newest concern, the chancellor said in an email to students Sunday.

“Combined with confusion around Santa Barbara County’s false late-night evacuation notice and concerns regarding air quality issues and transportation, these concerns have only continued to raise the level of anxiety at an already stressful time,” Yang wrote. “Continuation of scheduled exams has become untenable.”

The decision means the fall quarter has been extended, and winter quarter will begin Jan. 16 and reduced one week. The Martin Luther King. Jr. holiday will be observed Jan. 15.

The holiday break will continue as scheduled. 

USCB leaders are encouraging all students who wish to leave campus to do so, Yang added in an email to the campus community Sunday.

A revised final exam schedule will be posted on the Office of the Registrar website and in Gold on Tuesday. 

Despite the scheduling changes, the campus will remain open, including student housing — both residence halls and apartments. 

Campus offices will follow up separately with additional information to respond to student questions, including those related to financial aid and course prerequisites.

“Campus officials have stayed in close touch with county and fire officials throughout the night and have been assured that the campus remains safely out of the path of this fire,” Yang wrote. 

UCSB continues to host an evacuation shelter on campus at the Recreation Center.  

“Though there is no need to evacuate campus, again, we are recommending that students make arrangements to leave,” he said.

“We know how hard many have worked this quarter – faculty, students, and staff – in preparation for finals, and we will continue to work with faculty on the implementation of this change,” Yang said. “Some faculty have already made alternative arrangements instead of the previously scheduled exam, and these arrangements remain in effect.”

UCSB plans to curtail operations for Monday, and assess conditions on a daily basis, officials added.

“We will evaluate operations on a daily basis and communicate with the campus. We also urge managers to communicate with their respective staff about staffing plans,” Yang said.

Additional information will continue to be posted to the university home page.

“Over the years, we have repeatedly demonstrated our strong community and that we come together in difficult times. We are confident that despite these circumstances we will again prove what it means to be a Gaucho," Yang said.

At Westmont, a decision against holding finals on campus came after considering several factors, President Gayle D. Beebe said.

"We fully realize that this will create some complexities for faculty and students alike," Beebe said in a statement posted Saturday on the college website. "Thus, we are asking that all faculty members make alternative plans for their final exams."

This could mean a take-home exam, a phone or Skype presentation for some smaller classes, or alternative assignment. If appropriate, faculty can allow students to take the grade earned prior to the final.

"In short, we are placing the prerogative and responsibility in the hands of faculty who know what is best for their courses and most fair for their students," Beebe said. 

Westmont leaders have asked faculty to notify their students by noon Monday about the alternative plan for their final exam, including when they will distribute their final exam or final assignment and the due date. 

"Under no circumstances will the due date extend beyond December 19 at noon. Our faculty do an incredible job of balancing individual needs with academic integrity, and we know they will continue this commitment now," Beebe said.

Citing "the ongoing nature of this fire," Santa Barbara City College officials said all sites, including Main, Wake and Schott campuses as well as Cosmetology and Child Centers, will be closed until Dec. 18.

"Staff and Faculty should not come to campus. Students should not come to campus," college officials posted online.

The Santa Barbara County Education Office announced that many schools on the South Coast, Santa Ynez Valley and North County would be closed Monday, and some for longer. 

Carpinteria Unified School District, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Montecito Union School, Cold Spring School District, Hope Elementary School District and Goleta Union School District will all close through the end of the week, to reopen in January after their winter breaks, the county said Sunday. 

Most districts throughout the county will be closed Monday, including all public schools in the Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley. 


Santa Ynez Valley schools closed Monday include: Ballard, Buellton, College, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, Solvang and Vista Del Mar, according to the county.

All public schools in the Santa Maria Valley, including Santa Maria-Bonita, Santa Maria Joint Union High School, Guadalupe, and Orcutt Union districts, will be closed Monday due to poor air quality, and forecasts calling for worse conditions. Superintendents will meet mid-day Monday to decide whether the closure will extend.

“We’ve not done this in my tenure in the district,” said Santa Maria-Bonita spokeswoman Maggie White, who has worked for the district for 21 years. “(It’s) very unusual.”

St. Joseph High School in Orcutt also announced it would be closed Monday.

Lompoc Unified School District officials also alerted parents about Monday's cancellation of classes for students and staff. 

Most private schools also canceled classes, and people should check with districts directly for updates on school status this week. 

Allan Hancock College's Santa Maria campus and Lompoc Valley Center will be open Monday, with classes to be held as scheduled with masks to be available.

Two final exams set for Monday evening at the Santa Ynez Valley Center will take place in the Route 246 ballroom at the Corque Hotel, 400 Alisal Road, in Solvang since the local high school is closed Doors will open at 5:45 p.m. with exams starting at 6 p.m.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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