All West Contra Costa Unified School District schools will be closed on Thursday, Oct. 12, due to “rapidly changing air quality conditions” resulting from the massive North Bay fires, Superintendent Matt Duffy announced Wednesday afternoon.
“Central office departments will remain open,” Duffy said. “A decision about Friday will be made once more information becomes available.”
Duffy’s decision followed an ominous forecast of high winds returning to Wine Country — threatening to further fan flames of the devastating fires and to send more ash and smoke to West Contra Costa County. The fires have negatively impacted air quality Bay Area-wide. Residents wanting updates on air quality can visit the BAAQMD website and check the air monitoring data section.
Some parents have expressed concerns about schools remaining open amid smoky air and falling ashes. In a previous announcement, Superintendent Duffy stated that leaving schools open Tuesday and today provided a service for students who rely on the district’s breakfast and lunch meals. Also, with schools open students are offered a caring, supervised environment, he said.
The district, however, has pledged support since the onset for parents and guardians who decided to keep their children home, and has been closely monitoring air quality and shifting conditions.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has advised residents to:
- Limit outdoor activities to avoid unnecessary exposure if you smell smoke
- Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside
- Reduce exposure to smoky air by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed, if possible
- If you cannot keep windows and doors closed due to high temperatures, seek out cooling centers in your area
- If you experience symptoms like repeated coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, palpitations, nausea, fatigue or lightheadedness contact your health care provider.
- Stay tuned to local media for changes in smoke or weather conditions