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LAUSD to keep schools open despite pending storm updates, two CSU campuses go online Monday

Los Angeles public schools, except one, to open Monday despite weather warnings. Parents and staff should watch for updates.

Los Angeles public schools, with one exception, will be open Monday pending worsening weather conditions, and parents and staff were urged to watch for updates tonight and at 6 a.m., Supt. Alberto Carvalho said Sunday afternoon.

The decision was made in concert with city emergency officials, he said at a press briefing with Mayor Karen Bass and others. Most LAUSD students rely on school for their meals, a factor that also influenced his decision, Carvalho said.

"Considering the fact that our students depend on nutrition at school, we have made the decision at this point to maintain our schools open going into tomorrow," he said, adding that "during the time that our schools are open, the winds will subside."

The exception is Vinedale Span School in Sun Valley, which is affected by city-ordered mandatory evacuations in the area. Students and staff at that school are supposed to report to nearby Glenwood Elementary School.

Carvalho said conditions will vary throughout the sprawling district and that local decisions could vary. He left open the opportunity to change his mind -- and more updates are coming later Sunday night and Monday at 6 a.m.

At least two universities -- Cal State Fullerton and Cal State L.A. -- alerted students and staff that classes Monday would be held virtually. Otherwise, all student services and events at Cal State L.A. are canceled. The Cal State Fullerton campus will be open, but minimally staffed; students and employees were advised to watch the website for updates.

USC and UCLA officials said Sunday evening that campuses will be open and classes will continue as usual.

Carvalho urged parents and employees to assess whether it was safe to travel to campuses and urged patience on what could be a disruptive day.

"We are encouraging ... parents to make the best decision on the basis of the conditions around their homes and the established route from home to school. We do not want anyone to put themselves in danger and that applies to our workforce," he said.

Carvalho also warned of altered bus routes that could lead to delays.

"It is not going to be an easy day," Carvalho said as he stood with a phalanx of city and county officials at the regional emergency operations center downtown.

His message represented a contrast to that of other officials, who simply urged people to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.

The feed of comments to the mayor's livestream filled with questions about the wisdom of opening schools -- just as it likely would have filled with comments critical of closing campuses if that had been the choice.

Last August the decision to close campuses ahead of Tropical Storm Hilary, which touched Los Angeles more lightly than expected, prompted some criticism -- especially when the weather brought on a partly sunny Monday without school. That anti-climax had put Carvalho on the defensive at the time, even though the storm caused significant damage in other parts of the Southland.

Other school districts and institutions faced similar choices.

In Santa Barbara County, all public schools and community colleges will be closed Monday. Private schools will make their own decisions, said Adrienne Starr, a member of the local emergency operations team. Officials from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District said the decision was "based on the latest data from the National Weather Service and the recommendation of Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown."

Times staff writer Teresa Watanabe contributed to this report.

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