Unhealthy air quality likely to impact schools when class is back in session next week

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Playing fields in two of the biggest schools districts in the Central Valley are empty not just because it is summer break but due to unhealthy air quality.

Central and Fresno Unified Schools have moved or rescheduled practices for fall sports.

"Student safety is a paramount concern to us. So we always want to make sure that we're updating where the air quality is going and where it is currently. It's been going up and down. So we always want to stay on top of that," Sonja Dosti, Communications &Public Relations Officer for Central Unified.

Central Unified follows guidelines by the Valley Air District.

Practices for football and water polo have moved to the early morning but when school starts next week practices will be moved back to the afternoon.

"If they smell smoke or if they see smoke or if they see any type of ash falling, they have to treat it as a level four which is unhealthy," said Dosti.

At that point, the Central Unified moves most activities indoors or reduces the time frame for practice if it must remain outdoors. That also goes for recess and P.E. at elementary schools.

Fresno Unified was forced to move football practice earlier this week. But when school starts next week practice will move back to the afternoon and outdoors if possible.

"If we get into a situation where we go into a heat advisory or the air quality is unsafe then we cancel practices," said Brett Mar, Fresno Unified Athletic Manager.

Both districts cancel all outdoor activities at level five when air quality is considered hazardous.

And both districts will monitor conditions when the high school football season kicks off next Friday.

"Could be postponed, could be moved to a later time. It just depends on what happens. You never know what mother nature is going to do," said Mar.

As of Thursday games in districts are still on but if air quality remains poor a game-time decision will be made for a cancellation of postponement.
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