Central Unified: Purple Alert

August 15, 2008 6:51:49 PM PDT
It's only the third day of school for Central Unified, and already district officials issued a purple alert which means all outdoor activities ceased. Students spent the entire day inside to avoid getting sick. Reading a book, coloring pictures and eating an apple, it's recess time inside Mrs. Schmidt's classroom at Teague Elementary School. Students like second grader Samuel Villarreal could not head to the playground for a break. His mother Kathleen Villarreal said, "I am glad about it. Because there have been several times the air has been bad and I know they've been out in recess."

Assistant Superintendent Chris Williams said they held all PE classes and recess in doors. Williams called the purple alert an inconvenience for everyone especially high school sports. Athletes also must stay inside with bad air hanging over the valley. Williams said, "If you talk with a head coach two hour practice is very important especially when season starts next week. So, we try to figure out a way to still give them the opportunity to do walk through and practice but not be outside and exposed to the bad air."

Central Unified is considering pushing back the school year to avoid heat waves and the pollution that comes with triple digit temperatures. Parents seem to agree keeping kids in doors is the best option. Brian Henry said, "The air is so unhealthy. With my son's bad asthma, we don't know what it does to their body."

Most sports practiced in doors on Friday, but coaches also have the option of practicing outside after 7 PM. That's when the air quality is expected to improve.

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