Heat and poor air quality greet students on first day of class

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With triple digit heat still lingering along with poor air quality, administrators say they've already done their homework before school started. (KFSN)

Students in Merced are back in class and ready to start a new year, but the high temperatures and poor air quality are creating some trouble.

Summer break is officially over and thousands of Merced students started their first day back at school. Schools say they're ready to keep kids cool from the high temperature and the poor air quality.

With triple digit heat still lingering along with poor air quality, administrators say they've already done their homework before school started.

"Before the school starts, the principals review with their staffs about the air quality and the heat," Greg Spicer with the Merced City School District said.

Spicer said all water fountains were inspected before the year started, air conditioning pads at all their campuses were replaced, and teachers all pre-planned for hot days.

"If it's too hot, we do a rainy day schedule and play their activities within the room," he said.

Flags indicating the air quality also fly on campus. If it's orange, the air quality is unhealthy for people with asthma, and the school adjusts.

"The flags are already up for the air quality, so they're going to follow the plan for the color today," Spicer said.

The Valley Air District states the pollution from back to school traffic can contribute to ozone accumulation and asks parents to refrain from keeping their cars idle during school pickups.

Dr. Mahol Reddy said because of the harvesting season and pollination and along with smoke, the air quality can be bad for even those without asthma.

"Currently, the air quality has been getting worse over the past two weeks," he said. "And we expect it to get worse."

He said parents need to make sure their kids are well prepared for both school and the environment before leaving home.

"They should be medicated first thing in the morning before they go to school," Reddy said. "Their Antihistamines or inhalers, for asthma that their taking."
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