November 15, 2018
Santa Clara County Superintendent Issues Guidance Due to Air Quality Concerns
SCCOE to monitor conditions and advise schools
SAN JOSE, CA – The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) and the school districts of Santa Clara County after consultation with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department are recommending that schools remain open under current conditions.
"We have received communication from parents and community members who are concerned regarding the current air quality, as County Superintendent of Schools the safety and well-being of our students is an utmost concern. It is my goal to keep students in schools when possible, as schools provide a safe environment. Our goal is to ensure student safety," stated County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan.
At this time, schools in Santa Clara County are not closing.
"Due to the unhealthy air-quality, the following recommendations have been made to stay indoors and reschedule, cancelling or relocating to an indoors facilities any previously planned or scheduled outdoor activities. We also recommend that everyone avoid prolonged or heavy exertion."
"Our students and their safety are most important and it is our desire that students throughout the county have a safe place and refuge from the current air quality, students are safer and better served indoors within our schools, childcare homes and centers, and preschools."
Schools throughout Santa Clara County will remain open to provide this safe shelter for the students. The SCCOE will monitor air quality through www.airnow.gov and inform schools and after-school programs of the guidelines and recommend that families also stay informed and be mindful of health concerns. If you or your child is particularly susceptible to respiratory or heart trouble, please follow medical guidelines first.
"We are asking that outdoor and strenuous activity be limited, and we are also asking schools to limit time outdoors for staff who traditionally work outdoors, or reassign them to indoor assignments," added Dewan.
Please use precautions as recommended by Santa Clara County Public Health.
The Environmental Protection Agency makes the following recommendations for outdoor activity.
Following the recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration, N-95 respirators are not recommended for use for children as they may not fit properly.
"We have asked our districts to check with facilities teams to ensure ventilation systems are in working order, while replacing filters and HVAC systems as required; and make sure the system is set to recycle indoor air, and not bringing in air from outdoors," added Dewan.
- Santa Clara County Office of Education: Air Quality Guidelines
- Environmental Protection Agency: Air Quality and Outdoor Activity Guidance for Schools
- County of Santa Clara Public Health: Avoid Breathing Wildfire Smoke
About the Santa Clara County Office of Education
Working collaboratively with school and community partners, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is a regional service agency that provides instructional, business, and technology services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County. The County Office of Education directly serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The SCCOE also provides academic and fiscal oversight and monitoring to districts in addition to the 22 Santa Clara County Board of Education authorized charter schools.
Santa Clara Public Health Department HEALTH ADVISORY
November 9, 2018
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA – The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department is advising residents to take precautions due to visible smoke in the air. Wildfires in California are causing air pollution throughout the Bay Area.
If you smell smoke, protect your health by avoiding exposure. If possible, stay inside with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside. Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside. Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a dry scratchy throat and irritated sinuses. Elevated particulate matter in the air can trigger wheezing in those who suffer from respiratory conditions, such as asthma or emphysema/COPD. It is recommended that parents and school administrators check air quality readings before allowing children to practice outdoor sports while air quality is unhealthy.
Elderly persons, children and individuals with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure.
When air quality is Yellow, or Moderate, air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
Due to the active wildfires and changing wind patterns, air quality could be variable and unpredictable. Air quality may improve at times or get worse, very quickly. Check the latest air quality data for your area by searching your location at airnow.gov.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Winter Spare the Air Alert asking residents to avoid adding additional air pollution activities such as lawn mowing, leaf blowing, driving, and barbecuing. Burning wood, firelogs, pellets, or any other solid fuels in your fireplace, woodstove, or other wood-burning device is illegal during a Winter Spare the Air Alert.
Residents may have questions about using masks to help with protection from wildfire smoke. The most important thing you can do is to stay indoors as much as possible when you smell or see smoke in the air. If you work outdoors or prolonged outdoor activity is unavoidable, and there is heavy smoke, certain masks (for example, properly fitted N-95 masks) can protect against harmful exposure. Masks such as the N-95 are not effective for untrained users and may be more harmful than helpful for people with lung or heart conditions. Employees should work with their employers for direction on when/how to use N-95 masks. Bandanas and typical surgical masks DO NOT protect against wildfire smoke particles.
Real time air quality from United States Environmental Protection Agency Air Now
Wildfire Safety Tips are available from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Information on masks for those who expect significant exposure to smoke from the California Department of Public Health
Air quality forecasts and health advisories from state Bay Area Air Quality Management District
Follow the Public Health Department on Facebook for updates