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Earthquake: The Long Road Back : Aftershocks to Keep Simi Schools Shut : Education: A 5.1 tremor damages buildings scheduled to reopen. Classes resume in Conejo Valley Unified District.


Schools in Simi Valley will not reopen this week because a powerful aftershock Wednesday caused new damage to some buildings already hard hit by Monday's 6.6 temblor, officials said.

Principals at various schools found newly fallen chunks of stucco and plaster after the 1:12 p.m. aftershock, which registered 5.1 on the Richter scale, Supt. Mary Beth Wolford said. The most serious damage is at schools in the city's east end, officials say.

"It's just making people very jittery and nervous," said Wolford, adding that employees in the administrative offices dove for cover when the shaking began. "Things were banging and falling. I don't want to take any chances with the safety of students and staff."

Fillmore school officials planned to reopen today after inspections showed no major structural damage, officials said. A checkup after Wednesday's aftershock revealed no new problems, officials said.

Simi Valley officials had planned today to open at least 14 buildings among the least damaged of the district's 27 schools. Those schools now are expected to start up again Monday, Wolford said.

"I think we were just pushing too hard, too fast," Wolford said.

Several other schools east of Sycamore Drive could take slightly longer to fix up for the students' return, she said.

Students from the three most heavily damaged schools--Simi Valley High, Valley View Junior High and Township Elementary--must wait at least until Friday to learn if they will have to double up at other schools, officials said.

If that happens, a school would house one student population and faculty in the morning and another in the afternoon, Wolford said.

In Fillmore, Supt. David Haney said there will not be gas service at the schools right away because of a few broken lines. He added that he hoped the mild weather would continue until heat is restored.

The Fillmore district also had to replace many broken light fixtures and clean up the mess from rattled classrooms before students could return today, Haney said.

"Probably the worst problem for us is that things are really trashed," Haney said.

Meanwhile in Thousand Oaks, officials of Conejo Valley Unified District said Wednesday that the first day back to classes was fairly smooth despite some logistical difficulties in delivering bottled water to every building.

One of two trucks delivering water to the district's intermediate and high schools got trapped on the Ventura Freeway, Assistant Supt. Sarah Hart said. As a result, the water did not arrive until almost 10 a.m., Hart said.

"Then at 11 o'clock, they announced we weren't on the boil-water alert anymore," Hart said.

Because tap water was deemed safe to drink without boiling, school officials will not be forced to supply students with bottled water today, Hart said.

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