High Temperatures Impact the Valley

April 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The high temperatures and poor air quality often keeps Valley students inside and that can make it difficult for districts to meet physical fitness requirements.At Yokomi Elementary School where it got so hot today one P.E. class opted to stay inside instead of going out on the field. The district says for some kids, hot weather and bad air quality is a challenge.

On hot days like this, orange air quality flags wave over schools indicating the air quality is one level below the highest warning. "What we worry about are the red days," said Diane Torna with Fresno Unified School District.

On red days, students are not allowed to play outside. Diane Torna, Fresno Unified's Director of Health Services said bad air quality can be especially tough for the 5th, 7th and 9th graders with asthma that must test and meet physical education guidelines. "They have to run the mile or a fast paced walk," said Torna, "a lot of students say 'I can't run, I have asthma.'"

According to recent testing, 60 to 64 percent of Fresno Unified 5th, 7th, and 9th graders scored in the healthy fitness zone for aerobic activity. 68-69 percent scored in the healthy zone for body composition and 69-70 percent for flexibility.

At Yokomi Elementary, outside P.E. classes were cancelled for one group that stayed inside talking to U.C.S.F. medical students about how pollution and smoke affects the lungs. "They can cause the lungs to be a little tight especially kids with asthma they can be out running around get more asthma attacks," said U.C.S.F. Med student Jason Meeks.

But with residency partnerships and close to a million dollar grant from the Center of Disease Control (C.D.C.), Fresno Unified says students can be healthier.

The grant from the C.D.C. is a 5 year grant. Torna said the district has already hired an asthma nurse to help train and educate students.

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