Poor air quality prompts Calaveras School District to keep students indoors

Smoke filled view from Highway 26 in Calaveras County. 

The smoke has been overbearing in all areas of California due to the recent onslaught of wildfires, but for local residents in Calaveras County, the smoke has been especially bad in the last week. A memo has been sent out to all schools in the Calaveras County School District instructing schools to keep children indoors during lunch breaks and recesses, for their safety. The first memo was sent out by Belinda Brager, School District Nurse, to all schools in the Calaveras District on Friday, August 3, with a second notice sent out on Wednesday, August 8.

Calaveras Unified School District has sent out the notice after a joint Wildfire Smoke Advisory was issued by Calaveras County Office of Emergency Services and the Calaveras County Air Pollution Control District. The notice includes a reminder that “the potential impact varies, based on geographical location and wind direction, but has the greatest impact at this time on sensitive populations, including individuals with heart and lung disease, elderly persons, infants, children and pregnant women.”

The advisory recommends taking the following precautions during times of especially poor air quality:

• Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise

• Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible

• Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside – examples include swamp coolers, whole-house fans, and fresh air ventilation systems

• Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors. Change the standard air conditioner filter to a medium or high efficiency filter. If available, use the “re-circulate” or “recycle” setting on the unit

• Do not smoke, vacuum, fry food, or do other things that will create indoor air pollution

• If you have asthma, take your medications and follow your asthma management plan

Calaveras Unified School District has advised all schools to keep students inside during breaks and recesses, until further notice.

Under the direction of Michelle Patterson, the Director for The Office of Emergency Services, a website called “Next Door” is being utilized locally to send out emergency alert information, including air advisories. The website is: https://help.nextdoor.com/

There is also a cell phone app available. Anyone can sign up for access by using an email address and entering their home address.

Brager has offered the following guideline for staying safe in these smoke filled days “In general, if you can see smoke—all sensitive groups need to stay inside. If you can smell smoke, everyone needs to stay inside.”


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