NOTE: Daily athletic cancellations and changes will be posted at the bottom of this article
As we look forward to having a majority of our students back in school tomorrow, we wanted to share a reminder about the efforts taking place at Bend-La Pine Schools to monitor outdoor air quality.
According to Oregon Emergency Management, wildfires combined with forecast conditions will cause air quality to reach unhealthy levels at times in Oregon through Friday morning.
We use the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Guidance for School Outdoor Activities During Wildfire Events to guide our decision making. You can download and view it here:
We follow the Central Oregon Fire Information blog for an ‘insiders look’ at what is happening in our region. This blog is This blog is cooperatively maintained and posted by those Central Oregon Agencies involved in emergency response, to serve the communities information needs.
We also regularly check into the Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality pages.
And we like these FAQ’s from the Department of Environmental Quality about how to read the Air Quality Index
District staff will be monitoring DEQ’s 1-HR Air Quality Index readings for 6 a.m., 9 a.m. and noon on school days. If the 1-HR outside Air Quality Index at the DEQ Bend Pump Station registers as Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, Unhealthy or Very Unhealthy/Hazardous, building administrators will be contacted via email at approximately 6:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
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.
As our district covers more than 1,600 square miles and there is just one Air Quality Index measurement tool in our area, administrators are also encouraged to use the “5-3-1 Index,” in addition to the DEQ air quality index, for assessing air quality in their areas.
High school and middle school athletic directors will be monitoring air quality throughout the day and will make decisions about games and practices using the Oregon School Oregon School Activities Association, Sept. 5 updated recommendations.
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 has also replaced all air filters in our facilities, so we are going into the school year with new filters.
If staff members with medical issues have concerns about bus duty, crossing guard duty or other outside duties when air quality conditions are unsafe, they should speak with their supervisors about adjusting their supervision schedules.
Oregon Emergency Management offers the following tips for those who are at more risk than others, including children, the elderly, those with heart or lung diseases (including asthma). Steps can be taken to protect your health.
As always, if a staff member is too ill to work or becomes ill at work, he/she may use sick leave and stay home.
Wildfire smoke in our area may have an impact on your students' outdoor activities. We are closely monitoring air quality and are in regular contact with our agency partners during wildfire season to help guide our decision making around school sponsored, student activities taking place outside. Bend-La Pine Schools staff regularly monitor the Air Quality Index at the Bend Pump Station and do regular visual inspections of outside air quality to determine outdoor activity levels for students, per the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Guidance for School Outdoor Activities During Wildfire Events.
Once school begins, decisions about outdoor activities, including sports, recess and PE will be made throughout the day, using the OHA guidelines mentioned above. Changes to OSAA-sanctioned high school game schedules will be posted on their website.
No news is good news and means air quality is acceptable for outdoor play.
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.
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. This will help them decide if they need to take special precautions while engaging in outdoor activities. 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.