Air Quality Update October 17; Schools Open

October 17, 4:00 p.m.

Dear Community,

Unfortunately, today the trend toward improved air quality changed course, as wildfires continued to burn, and wind patterns shifted.

The Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) is issuing a Health Advisory & Spare the Air Alert through Wednesday, October 18, due to the currently unpredictable air quality in the Bay Area.

We want you to know that we contacted Principals this afternoon when the air quality entered the orange “unhealthy for sensitive groups” zone to ask for reduced outdoor exposure, and then as the trend entered the red “unhealthy” zone we also moved PE classes inside and asked athletic directors to limit activity and continue to monitor conditions.

We continue to follow the guidance of the Air Quality and Outdoor Activity Guidance for Schools and consult regional and local data sources to determining the appropriate level of outdoor activity.

Thank you,

Donald Evans, Ed.D., Superintendent

P.S . We have received many questions about respirator masks for students. Unfortunately, the kinds of masks that protect from the particulates in the air from wildfire are not designed for children. To be effective, respirator masks need to fit well. Keeping students inside and/or reducing their exposure is the main tool we have at our disposal.

If you or a member of your family has asthma or other respiratory issues, be sure to follow your doctor’s directions. For some people, wearing a respirator mask may actually make symptoms worse.

Here is more specific information on the topic of masks:


BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans sent the following message to District families Sunday, Oct. 15:

Dear Families,

Berkeley Public Schools will be open the week of Monday, October 16.

Student activities will return to normal as the smoky air abates, with recess and P.E. returning outdoors.

We are using the Air Quality and Outdoor Activity Guidelines from the California EPA and following forecasts from and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The current forecast is for the air quality in Berkeley to range between green (good) and yellow (moderate) over the coming week, depending on fire containment and wind directions. The warmer temperatures Monday may be giving way to cooler and possibly rainy weather later in the week, offering much needed relief to area conditions.

May this coming week be much much better for all concerned.

Donald Evans, Ed.D.

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