Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Poor air quality keeps students inside


By MEGAN THOMAS
Express Staff Writer

The smoky haze blanketing the valley forced Blaine County students to stay inside last week. The Blaine County School District canceled outside recess and sports practices across the district due to the poor air quality from Western wildfires.

"We decided, just to be safe, we would keep all kids inside," said Kate Heinecke, Blaine County School District spokeswoman.

The school district decided Thursday, Sept. 8, to keep kids indoors in light of air quality advisories issued in Boise and Twin Falls.

"We don't have an air quality meter here, but we decided, just to be safe, we would keep all kids in at recess," Heinecke said. "We canceled soccer and cross-country practices. However, varsity soccer did play, but middle school did not go out."

The decision may have been a first for the district.

"I don't recall us taking extraordinary measures (in the past). I think this is a first for the district, at least for as long as I have been here," said Cathy Zaccardi, Blaine County Schools clerk of the board. She has worked for 18 years for the district.

By Friday, the district remained cautious, allowing students outside for abbreviated breaks.

"Visibly you can see the air quality has improved. We are letting kids out for recess, but only a limited time, 10 minutes," Heinecke said. "And, kids with allergies and asthma are not to go outside."

By Monday the district lifted restrictions on outside play.






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