Air Quality Information for Schools
Smoke over the Rogue Valley/Photo Courtesy: Kristin Hosfelt KOBI-TV NBC5 News
NOTE: Daily athletic cancellations and changes will be posted at the bottom of this article.
UPDATED: Sept. 6, 2017
As we now have the majority of our students back in school, we wanted to share a reminder about the efforts taking place at the Medford School District to monitor outdoor air quality and mitigate the risk to students and staff.
What is the current forecast for Oregon?
According to Oregon Emergency Management, wildfires combined with forecast conditions will cause air quality to reach unhealthy or even hazardous levels at times in Oregon at least through Friday morning.
What guidelines do you follow during wildfire events?
We use the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Guidance for School Outdoor Activities During Wildfire Events to guide our decision making. You can view it and download it here.
Where can I find more information about fires and smoke in Southern Oregon?
We regularly check into the Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality pages.
We also like these FAQ’s from the Department of Environmental Quality about how to read the Air Quality Index.
How is the Medford School District monitoring outdoor air quality?
District staff will be monitoring DEQ’s 1-HR. and 24-HR. Air Quality Index readings beginning at 6am on school days. If the 24-HR outside Air Quality Index at the DEQ Medford Station registers as Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, Unhealthy or Very Unhealthy/Hazardous, building administrators will be contacted via email. If readings register as Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, Unhealthy or Very Unhealthy/Hazardous, administrators will use the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Guidance for School Outdoor Activities During Wildfire Events guidelines to make decisions about outdoor recess and/or PE. For example, if the reading is ‘Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,’ PE activities for students sensitive to air pollution will be moved indoors. Other students’ activities will be limited to “light” or moved indoors. Rest periods will be increased and substitutions will be made. Symptoms will be monitored and activities will be reduced or ceased if symptoms arise.
What is happening inside Medford School District schools?
Our maintenance team is working to keep as much smoke as possible out of buildings. It's important to keep windows and doors closed to support these efforts. Maintenance crew members have also replaced all air filters in our facilities, so we are going into the school year with new filters.
What if my child has to walk to school?
The OHA offers this information on effects from smoke exposure: “Most healthy adults and children will recover quickly from smoke exposure and will not suffer long-term health consequences. Exposures to carcinogens found in wildfire smoke over short periods (days to weeks) are small relative to total lifetime exposures in more common combustion sources.” If you are concerned about your child’s health, please contact your health care provider.
What about masks?
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) does not recommend children wear masks for smoke protection because they are not designed to fit children. OHA offers the following information on mask use for adults: “Surgical-type masks are typically relatively loose fitting and are not designed to capture a large percentage of small particles; therefore, they are insufficient to protect against inhalation of particles generated by wildfires… In general, we feel that N95s respirators only offer protection if properly fit tested and worn correctly, so we are not recommending their use for the general population.” See helpful documentation from OHA on wildfire and your health here.
What’s the latest on Athletics?
The Oregon Sports Activities Association (OSAA) issued new guidelines on Tuesday, Sept. 6 for athletics and activities. Read them here. The new guidelines suggest districts not practice outside until the air quality is in yellow or moderate. Schools will be following the OSAA Guidelines and Medford District safety directives.
UPDATED: Sept. 4, 2017
Wildfire smoke in Southern Oregon is leading to unhealthy air quality readings in many areas across the state, including Medford, Jacksonville and the Applegate Valley. The Medford School District (MSD) is closely monitoring conditions and making decisions about outdoor activities day by day.
The MSD utilizes Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) readings in assessing air quality and follows guidelines by the Oregon Heath Authority and Oregon Activities Association in determining whether to hold activities outdoors, including athletic games, practices, PE, and recess.
If the air quality is "unhealthy" or "very unhealthy/hazardous" per DEQ's 24-hour reading, the MSD will make every effort to keep students indoors wherever and whenever possible. School staff will closely monitor all students and look for any signs of sensitivity to smoke. We encourage families to let us know if students are having health issues associated with the smoke or have lung or cardiac sensititives.
Schools will make every effort to communicate any changes to planned outdoor activities in a timely manner.
NOTE: MSD buildings do have air-conditioning.
Watch for symptoms
Wildfire smoke can make asthma symptoms worse. It can trigger asthma attacks. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. Even students without known asthma can have symptoms when exposed to unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke pollution.
Students with asthma should follow their Asthma Action Plan. Athletes with asthma should have rescue inhalers readily available. Use should be as directed by their health care provider. Anyone experiencing symptoms should contact a health care provider. Call 911 in an emergency.
Information about Athletics
Our high school athletic directors, activities directors, coaches and support staff are communicating with families with students participating in OSAA activities regarding these health guidelines. Coaches will notify families if any changes are made to games or practice times and schedules. Decisions regarding games will be made daily as necessary.
The safety of our students is of the utmost concern.
- For more information on how wildfire can affect your health, see the Oregon Public Health website
- Consult with your local health authority if you have questions about air pollution and health.
OSAA sanctioned high school game schedule changes and cancellations:
Sept. 16, 2017
NMHS v. South Eugene posponted to Monday 9/18 at 5pm at South Eugene
All soccer home and away CANCELLED
Cross Country meet in Eugene CANCELLED
Sept. 6, 2017
Hottest Ticket in Town! So hot it does not smoke!
North-South Volleyball will be played on Thursday times as scheduled
North South Soccer will go ahead as scheduled air quality permitting and we must be in the yellow to play the games.
Boys JV at 1 pm. South
Boys Varsity 1 pm South
Girls JV at 3 North
Girls V at 5 North
If air quality does not allow the games, we will reschedule for the 14th.
North is scheduled to play Shasta High School from Redding. We will play all games in Redding on Saturday (FR, JV, VAR). Games Times TBA
Frosh will travel to Mazama Thursday at 5 pm air quality permitting.
JV and Varsity will travel to West Linn as scheduled on Friday air quality permitting.
Saturday North at Yreka Race-To be determined based on air quality conditions.
September 5, 2017
- CANCELED: Sept. 5 NMHS JV and Varsity Boys Soccer
- CANCELED: Sept. 5 NMHS JV and Varsity Girls Soccer
- CANCELED: Sept. 5 SMHS JV and Varsity Girls Soccer
- DATE CHANGE: Sept. 6 SMHS JV and Varsity Boys Soccer
August 30, 2017
- MOVED: Sept. 1 SMHS JV and Varsity Football to Wilsonville