Blazers were sent home this morning due to a power outage at Blair.
At 4:45AM, Principal Phillip Gainous was alerted that power had gone out at the school. According to Gainous, the superintendent's office and PEPCO believed electricity would be restored shortly and the decision was made to keep Blair open.
Kate Harrison, the assistant director for the MCPS Department of Communications, said the decision to cancel school was eventually made by a number of people, including the chief operating officer of MCPS and the superintendent's office. According to Harrison, at the time of the closing PEPCO told MCPS that power would be restored in approximately four hours. Students were sent home, but 15 minutes after students who walk to school were released from Blair, the electricity was restored.
Harrison said that while she understood that the decision could be difficult for both parents and students, the choice to close Blair was a necessary one. "All of a sudden everything made a 180 degree turn. It's not an easy decision. I would certainly understand if there were parents and students unhappy," she said.
Gainous supported the decision to cancel school, but was still unhappy the decision was necessary. "We lost another day of instruction," he said. "Three days of learning for students, three days of learning for staff."
Junior Bezawit Bayou was hit by a truck after leaving Blair. Despite this incident, Harrison said MCPS does put "a great emphasis on pedestrian safety" when making decisions.
Summer Stitz, a media relations worker for PEPCO, speculated that the cause for Blair's power outage was related to further deterioration of trees that were hit hard by Hurricane Isabel. With the new rainstorms that occurred last night "trees continued to be weakened," she said.
Stitz also said that even though Blair lost power, PEPCO had put a priority on ensuring schools had power. PEPCO "focused on restoring circuits that had schools," she said.
Additional reporting by Chris Mulligan
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