San Jose

San Jose Schools Back to Basics During PG&E Power Shutoff

Before the power came back on in parts of San Jose, some schools in the dark decided to stay open and handled the outage with a lesson about getting back to basics.

At Williams Elementary School, for instance, the lights did come back during the school day on but in an empty classroom.

"I thought it was a little bit laughable," teacher Jenny Polizzotto said. "The kids had just left, and all of a sudden the power came on. I’m like 'Is this a joke?'"

Williams and its 657 students were one of four San Jose Unified School District campuses to conduct classes without power. Graystone Elementary, Bret Hart Middle School, and Leland High also carried on in the dark.

In Shauna Shelley’s fourth grade class at Williams, they had a lesson on making a light bulb. The K-5 school even turned the lawn into a classroom.

One of the biggest concerns during the outage was the fire alarms didn’t work. So, at each school, a district operations officer was assigned to roam the campus as a "walking fire alarm."

Getting back to basics, teaching and learning without electronics, also had its benefits.

"We have great teachers on staff, so instructions have been adapted so that we’re not relying on laptop computers, projection systems or the internet," Williams Principal Devin Blizzard said.

Fifth grader Anjika Bansal said the biggest advantage with having no electronics was "we can finally get out and be interacting with other people."

Polizzotto said the students handled the outage really well.

"So, it wasn’t as horrible a day as I would’ve imagined it to be going into it," she said. "It was kind of funny though when it came on right after they left."

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