Central Point School District #6

Air quality and outdoor student activity, school closure or delay

Currently, schools in District 6 will open on Tuesday, as scheduled. School closures or delays resulting from air quality issues will be handled like severe weather delays and closures. School officials will monitor the Air Quality Index and weather to consider school closure or delay should conditions be deemed unsafe. Any decisions about closure or delay will be made by 6:00 am on school days (at the very latest) and posted on the District 6 website and Facebook page. Staff will be notified via email.

The Department of Environmental Quality has consistently categorized the air quality in the Rogue Valley as “unhealthy” (although there have been a few, brief windows of relief) and today the Air Quality Index has reached “Very Unhealthy” levels for much of the valley. The proximity, intensity and size of surrounding wildfires, combined with our typical summer weather conditions, suggest that the valley will face smoky conditions for at least a few weeks.

All children are designated “sensitive populations” and during “Unhealthy” and worse conditions, should limit activity in smoky conditions. School officials are closely monitoring the air quality conditions and use the DEQ’s index to make decisions about outdoor activity, along with specific guidance from the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) for secondary athletics and activities, and the Oregon Health Department for outdoor school activities (recess, PE and other activities).

Use the following links for specific information: http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/, Oregon Health Department Guidelines, OSAA Guidance, EPA Guidelines for Schools.

While it’s easy to limit outdoor activities, conditions indoors also pose some risk to children and adults. The majority of our buildings are quite old and not equipped with air conditioning. However, even air-conditioned spaces provide little protection from the outdoor air quality. Air handlers utilize outside air for cooling and the filtration system in typical air conditioning systems does not filter out all hazardous particles. Only chambered entrances combined with air purification systems (found in buildings like hospitals and some homes) offer significant insulation from poor outdoor air quality. Further, simply opening and closing exterior doors (something that happens consistently through the school day) exposes interior, air-conditioned spaces directly to outdoor air conditions.

Any student who is sensitive to outdoor air conditions will be allowed to remain indoors for recess, PE or other activities. School staff, including principals, teachers, and classified staff are aware that some students may be extra sensitive to the smoke.

Finally, parents will ultimately make decisions about their child’s exposure to smoky outdoor air. If your child is particularly sensitive to the smoky air or has a medical condition that requires limited exposure, you may choose not to send your child to school. If this is the case, please contact your school; arrangements can be made for your child to receive assignments at home.

Even as the smoky air poses a challenge for opening week, District 6 schools and staff are prepared and excited to welcome your children to the 2017-18 school year.