Fresno Unified cancels outdoor activities due to heat, bad air quality

Monday, August 17, 2015
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Class is back in session for the Valley's largest school district, but all outdoor activities are on hold.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Class is back in session for the Valley's largest school district, but all outdoor activities are on hold. Officials with Fresno Unified made the decision to cancel all P.E. classes and most after-school practices well before the peak of Monday's heat and bad air quality.

From the football field to the track to the tennis court, all are empty on the first day of school for Fresno Unified. Triple-digit temperatures and unhealthy air quality were the main factors in canceling all outdoor activities for the school day and for some practices after school.

"We take them both very seriously, and sometimes the temperature could be fine but the air quality is very poor, especially in this season with the drought," said Tim Carey, athletic director at Hoover High School. "If we have a fire nearby, that could greatly affect the air quality if the smoke is coming out of a certain direction."

Carey is watching Valley temperatures and monitoring air quality early in the morning. By the midday hours, he must decide with other athletic officials if classes and practices will be held outdoors. When P.E. classes and practices are canceled, the district issues a red flag day due to the bad air quality and heat.

"You know it is a day-to-day thing. Sometimes you have to show up later, football practice under the lights at 7 or whenever they can get out there," said Carey.

Some practices will be held later in the evening, but Carey says they will be short and with plenty of water breaks for athletes.

Over at the Allergy Institute in Northeast Fresno, Dr. A.M. Aminian says as the first week of school gets underway, his office gets more crowded with students.

"The first couple of days everyone is busy to find their classroom and go around and talk to the teachers," said Dr. Aminian. "But usually toward the end of the week, then we get the influx of parents bringing in their children because of respiratory problems."

Dr. Aminian says parents need to monitor their child's breathing, be on the alert for any chest pain and make sure they have plenty of water. Fresno Unified officials are taking the same steps and say safety is first.

"Our number one priority is our kids' safety," said Carey. "We want them participating but we want them safe while they do it, so that means giving the water we need to. And if we have to cancel, we cancel. It is just for our own safety."

Dr. Aminian says parents should also watch out for coughing, wheezing and eye irritation, and he recommends that children take a shower before bed to wash off any dirty air particles.