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Hazardous, unhealthy air quality prompts schools to cancel outdoor activities

ABC10 reached out to nearly 90 high school athletic directors from Yuba City to Turlock to learn what schools are doing to keep students and athletes safe as the smell of smoke and haze moves in from deadly wildfires in the region. 
Yuba City's varsity football team runs onto the field for its homecoming game against Rio Linda on October 6, 2017. (PHOTO: Lina Washington)

Hazardous or unhealthy air quality throughout northern California has prompted many area high schools to cancel or postpone outdoor activities Wednesday and throughout the week.

ABC10 reached out to nearly 90 high school athletic directors from Yuba City to Turlock to learn what schools are doing to keep students and athletes safe as the smell of smoke and haze moves in from deadly wildfires in the region.

As of Wednesday, ABC10 received the following information from these districts and schools:

  • Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District has cancelled everything for the week.
  • Sacramento Country Day School has cancelled outdoor practices (cross country) due to poor air quality.
  • San Juan Unified School District sent a notice that outdoor practices/activities are cancelled for Wednesday. No decision for the rest of the week has been made yet.
  • Capital Christian has canceled or moved all outdoor practices indoors due to the poor air quality on Wednesday.
  • Sacramento Adventist Academy’s game on Wednesday is canceled along with outdoor practices. The school will make the call in the morning on postponing or canceling a cross country meet scheduled for Thursday afternoon. The school was scheduled to go to a volleyball tournament Thursday through Saturday in Angwin area, just above Napa, but that has been moved to a different location in the Walnut Creek area instead and shortened to a Thursday - Friday tournament.
  • C.K. McClatchy High School cancelled its league wide cross country meet and all golf matches. P.E. classes were all inside Wednesday as well and practices have moved inside as well. The school is taking it day by day for the rest of the week.
  • Langston Hughes Academy had to move all lunch and P.E. activities inside and it cancelled all outdoor sports until further notice.
  • Roseville Joint Unified School District cancelled all outdoor events scheduled for Wednesday.
  • St. Francis Catholic High School canceled soccer conditioning for Wednesday. Basketball training will be in the gym from 1-2:30 p.m. Cross country will be inside the gym starting at 3:20 p.m. Water Polo pool session at Jesuit will be canceled. The golf practice and match with Franklin has been canceled and will be rescheduled. Tennis is off today. The school advised all student-athletes to stay inside as much as possible. Volleyball will play in Davis as scheduled.
  • Yuba City High School lifted restrictions for outdoor activities Wednesday afternoon after air quality improved with the strong wind blowing the smoke to the south. The air quality index was at 80, which is moderate, at the time the update was released. The Yuba district issued this statement early Wednesday:

“While the air quality is in the 132 range, the amount of ash raining down, especially on our southern sites is cause for alarm with some parents. For the elementary sites, we are recommending a rainy-day schedule. For the high schools please move P.E. inside for the day. At this point, athletics for after school are still a go. I know we have teams traveling, so we will be cognizant in making a decision. Nothing for the rest of the week has been decided yet.”

  • Bradshaw Christian High School is either moving outdoor practices indoors (workouts inside), using this time for some classroom work (chalk talk/videos) or some teams are just cancelling.
  • Turlock Unified School District made the decision to cancel all outdoor athletic events (including practices) and activities on Wednesday.

Will DeBoard, Director of Communications for the CIF’S Sac-Joaquin Section, told ABC10 the CIF does not have a rule for air quality.

Similar to the way the CIF handles extreme heat, it allows the individual schools or districts control and decide what is best for its student-athletes. DeBoard also shared the following information regarding practice or game cancelations with ABC10:

  • Napa schools all canceled all activities and have until next Wednesday to reschedule games. Schools can only play eight games in an eight day period.
  • Fairfield sports are day by day but most athletic activities are canaled for Thursday since most matchups are scheduled against Napa schools.
  • San Juan Unified School District is limiting outdoor activities for students and employees who work outdoors on Wednesday due to air quality concerns.
  • Folsom-Cordova Unified School District hasn’t decided if games will be canceled but the district has limited or canceled outdoor activities for Wednesday.

This story is developing and will be updated as more cancelations or postponements are announced.