Mountain school districts canceling classes and releasing students early because of heavy smoke

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Fast moving fires in Madera County meant Labor Day weekend wasn't only three days for several mountain school districts. (KFSN)

Fast moving fires in Madera County meant Labor Day weekend wasn't only three days for several mountain school districts. The combination of erratic fire behavior, poor air quality, and road closures on Tuesday forced district officials to cancel classes in the Bass Lake, Yosemite, and Chawanakee Districts.

Chawanakee Unified Superintendent Darren Sylvia said, "Our biggest concern was making sure the community was safe and being responsive."

Sylvia said several factors go into that decision making process. District officials work with first responders for a plan of action.

"We have smoke, we have issues, we have other concerns that we need to address, and if the fire department needed to take over our campus to use that as a command post."

North Fork Elementary served as a command center for Cal Fire and has in the past. Though the fires continue to burn, Wednesday parents found out students were allowed back to the six schools within the Chawanakee District.

"We were assured from Fire that we would have some access points that we would be able to transport students from. We want to get back to a stable environment," said Sylvia.

District officials are going to determine participation in outdoor activity based on air quality-- everything from PE to football practice.

"It's appropriate for them to watch out for the well-being of our children and we appreciate that," said Mansel Trimble, parent.

Trimble has boys at both Spring Valley and Minarets-- his family received a phone call and text message regarding school updates.

"Kids can stay home; they don't mind it so much. Folks are out of their home and it's frightening and unsettling for them."

Other schools in the area, like those in the Bass Lake School District as well as Yosemite High School, started the day on a two hour bus delay.

Students at Yosemite High School in Oakhurst were sent home around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday after school officials said it was hazardous for students to remain on campus because of smoke.

Related Topics:
wildfireair qualitysmokemadera countymariposa countyOakhurstMadera CountyMariposa County
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