Despite the rain, air quality still a concern for schools

SANGER, Calif. (KFSN) -- This winter's El Nino weather pattern has brought rain and healthier air to the Valley, but the air quality continues to be a serious issue.

Students at Jefferson Elementary School in Sanger had fun exercising on this winter day without a worry about the air quality. "This winter is probably the best we've seen in five years. We're lucky to have rain, but the key is the wind," said Heather Heinks, Valley Air District Outreach Manager.

Heinks said despite the good weather, bad air quality continues to be a concern.

On Thursday, the air district and Sanger Unified came together to talk about the critical issue. "It's a blessing living in the Valley but one of the consequences, we have one of the-- some of the worst air quality in the country," said Matthew Navo, Sanger Unified Superintendent.

Sanger Unified is one of the districts participating in the Healthy Air Living schools program. It helps schools monitor real air time with its network and also follows the real-time outdoor advisory risk to determine when kids can stay outside or need to come inside. "We try and protect student health, but keep activities occurring over the course of the school day. So we've got fitness occurring and air quality doesn't prevent that," said Heinks.

However, the school is ready when they need to get some exercise inside. Jefferson students showed us their dance moves in a fun activity. Teachers said they've come up with creative ways to help kids get their energy out. Also, as a part of the program, the school put up signs to remind drivers not to idle in school zones. "So we'd like them to realize they can make decisions that don't contribute to air pollution, so we can stay clear for longer," said Heinks.

Air officials are hoping other Valley schools will join the program to monitor air quality and keep kids healthy and safe all school year long.
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