Wildfire smoke in our area may have an impact on students' outdoor activities. When wildfire smoke is in our area, we 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 communicate 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.
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 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 be monitoring DEQ’s current Air Quality Index readings regularly before and during the school day when smoke is present in the Bend, La Pine and Sunriver areas. If the current 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.
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 and athletic directors 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 guidelines.