Air Quality Problems Might Be Here to Stay
Prior to our Thanksgiving Break the air quality index (AQI) climbed to unhealthy levels. Although the numbers hit new levels last week, this is a problem that we need to be prepared for. More and more often 'Spare the Air" days are being issued. So, what does that mean for LeyVa Middle School?
Spare the Air The Bay Area Air Quality Management District in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues an AQI number each day. When that number climbs into unhealthy levels a "Spare the Air" day is issued. We've had more and more of these in the last few years. The recommendations include using public transit, refraining from burning wood, and stay alert for those who are especially sensitive to air pollution. As that number climbs, the recommendations include closer monitoring for those sensitive and more breaks or limits for longer physical activities. See the table below form the EPA.
Good - Great day to be active outside!
Yellow (51 to 100)
Moderate - Good day to be active outside! Students who are unusually sensitive to air pollution could have symptoms.
Orange (101 to 150)
Unhealthy for sensitive groups. It's OK to be active outside, especially for short activities such as recess and physical education (PE).
For longer activities such as athletic practice, take more breaks and do less intense activities. Watch for symptoms and take action as needed.
Red (151 to 200)
Unhealthy - For all outdoor activities, take more breaks and do less intense activities. Consider moving longer or more intense activities indoors or rescheduling them to another day or time. Watch for symptoms and take action as needed.
Purple (201 to 300)
Very unhealthy - Move all activities indoors or reschedule them to another day.
DISTRICT PROCEDURES As soon as a "Spare the Air" day is issued (AQI higher than 100), the Evergreen School District alerts everyone. You probably recognize this procedure. The district issues an email to all parents and alerts school staff to put in place site-based procedures that range from monitoring students sensitive to air quality, limiting outdoor activities and, even, moving everything indoors. But, LeyVa is an outdoor campus and currently has no access to our gymnasium due to construction. How do the procedures work for us?
LEYVA PROCEDURES The procedures vary depending on the AQI. For yellow and orange, regular activities take place with extra attention for students sensitive to poor air quality. You may write your child a note to be excluded from PE activities. Once the AQI goes above 150, all PE activities are moved indoors and classrooms are opened for breaks and lunches.
With the recent wildfires, the AQI rose to unhealthy levels. We limited students outdoor access as much as possible and canceled PE and sports outdoor activities and opened up classrooms for breaks and lunch.
With unhealthy air quality and more "Spare the Air" days becoming a reality, we expect to use these procedures more often. We'll also add these procedures to our safety plan. Please know that we monitor the AQI daily and aim to keep students safe with minimal disruption to student learning goals.