District takes precautions in response to poor air quality

    Stephanie Yu wears a mask to prevent breathing in the smoke. Many students wore masks or used their hoodie to cover their mouth and nose. Photo: Samantha McBride

    Senior Stephanie Yu wears a mask to prevent breathing in smoke from fires in Napa and Sonoma counties. Many students wore masks or used their hoodie to cover their mouth and nose. Photo: Samantha McBride

    The Palo Alto Unified School District is taking precautions all week to keep students and faculty safe as Palo Alto succumbs to smoke from wildfires in Northern California’s wine country.

    As of Thursday morning, the fires had not been contained and authorities said were getting worse as the wind accelerated, resulting in heavy smoke and poor air quality in the Bay Area.

    District nurse Rosemarie Craig sent out a letter to parents and faculty Wednesday night advising that all outdoor activities be moved to indoors, including physical education classes, athletic practices, games and field trips.

    Craig and the Paly administration also advise that students should not bike or walk to school while the air quality continues to deteriorate. Carpooling is recommended, although one of the results is increased traffic at morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times. Elementary and middle school faculty members were told to keep students indoors during brunch and lunch until the air quality improves.

    In the letter, Craig emphasizes that students who have any respiratory medications should have easy access to use them as needed. Students who report any respiratory issues should be assisted immediately before their condition could worsen.

    The death toll has risen to 23 and 50,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano told NBC Bay Area. If you want to help out, several Safeways in the Bay Area are taking food and water donations for those directly affected by the fires. Two Paly teachers, Margo Wixsom and Christopher Bautista are bringing supplies to Napa.

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