5 Things We Learned from the Puerto Rico Blackout
It's been about a week since a fire at an electrical substation left 1.5 million homes and businesses without power across the entire island of Puerto Rico. In addition, about 350,000 people had no running water. Parents scrambled to find child care as schools and day care centers canceled classes. Doctors were forced to reschedule surgeries. Without traffic signals or street lights, drivers navigated streets at their peril. What did we learn in the TASIS Dorado community from this experience?
1. Given the widespread nature of the apagón and the short notice for our teachers—some of whom live an hour from the school—we had no alternative but to cancel class on Thursday. TASIS Dorado parents were exceptionally understanding about this decision.
2. Of our 105 teachers, 103 were present on Friday to teach class, even though many areas of the island were still without power or water! The only two teachers missing had previously scheduled appointments due to personal exigencies. A high percentage of our students were present as well. Education is truly valued at TASIS Dorado.
3. Our "plantas" (generators) are currently only able to provide power to about 80% of the campus. As our school has increased in size and complexity, our generators have not kept pace. We will need to add an additional unit or replace our current generator with a much larger one in order to reach 100%. The cost of a larger unit is over $125K. This was not part of our budget.
4. We are dependent on a fragile utility infrastructure on the island. The view of the island at night from space was striking. Given the aging system and the economic environment, this may be the first of additional extended power outages in the future. We need to be prepared.
5. We take many things for granted, such as electric light, air conditioning, and running water. This crisis reminded us to live gratefully and to remember those in even greater need. It also brought the stars out in a way that many of us hadn't seen in quite a while.
Thank you for being such a supportive community of parents and educators. See you around campus!