September 3, 2021
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Delivers Donations and Meets with Educational Leaders Affected by the Caldor Fire
SACRAMENTO—Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, joined El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ed Manansala while visiting several locations in El Dorado County to learn about the impacts of the Caldor Fire on schools. He delivered donations including books, nutritional refreshments, and gift cards, as provided by the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation’s (CDEF) Emergency Response Fund.
“Unfortunately, these horrific wildfires and other natural disasters have become our new normal as a result of the effects of climate change,” Thurmond said. “These incidents, along with a global pandemic, have meant extraordinary setbacks for our schools during this last year-and-a-half. The strength and compassion of Californians knows no boundaries, and we will continue to work tirelessly to secure resources for devastated communities and support the well-being of students and educators.”
At the Placerville Library program, educators and program staff are providing family supports and student tutoring to those who have been displaced by the closure of seven school districts in the county. Santiago Perez, a sixth-grader from the Camino Union School District (CUSD), had to evacuate with his family more than two weeks ago. He and his siblings attend the program at the library, and he welcomed Superintendent Thurmond upon his arrival.
At this program, led by CUSD teacher Dusty Botting, dozens of educators and students from multiple districts come to the library daily, and CUSD Superintendent/Principal Matt Smith noted, “Although our campus is closed due to the fire, our Camino team is doing a tremendous job ensuring our students stay engaged in learning and relationship. We appreciate Superintendent Thurmond’s visit to this volunteer program; it reinforces the importance of being here for our kids.”
Superintendent Thurmond participated in story time and asked students to share their stories. Educators explained how the program is comprised of learning opportunities including tutoring, physical education, yoga, and more. Superintendent Thurmond presented donations before departing. The El Dorado County Community Hub program, a partnership among First 5 El Dorado, the County Library, and the El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE), provides this program thanks to the support of volunteer educators and leadership of EDCOE’s Elizabeth Blakemore, Director of Early Learning and Family Support, and Jesus Cordova, Bilingual Family Engagement Specialist.
Superintendent Thurmond continued to the Caldor Fire Incident Command at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds and received an update from Maurice Johnson, Fire Chief of the El Dorado Hills Fire Department. He engaged with fire crews and first responders to further understand the ramifications of the devastating fire.
At the EDCOE, he joined a meeting of the superintendents of El Dorado County’s 15 school districts. Dr. Nancy Williams, El Dorado County Public Health Officer, explained the current COVID conditions and impacts across the county. District superintendents then shared the challenges they face educating students safely and efficiently while navigating COVID, severe air quality hazards, evacuations, and school closures.
“Superintendent Thurmond’s visit was significant and highlights the intense situations our leaders and educators are managing,” said Dr. Manansala. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with him and the California Department of Education to support the schools and students of El Dorado County.”
Thurmond also looks forward to future collaborations. “I am proud and grateful for Dr. Manansala’s work and leadership to support schools, students, staff, and families in these extraordinarily challenging times,” Thurmond said. “The California Department of Education stands ready to support you and the needs of your teams as you fight the impacts of regional wildfires and the pandemic.”
Donations to CDEF disaster relief can be made to the CDEF GoFundMe page . To support El Dorado County educators who have been impacted by the Caldor Fire, visit the Emergency Assistance for EDC Educators Fund , which has been established by the El Dorado Community Foundation.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100