WCCUSD closing all schools Thursday ‘due to rapidly changing air conditions’

WCCUSD to close schools Thursday 'due to rapidly changing air conditions'

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


  1. It’s like LA in the 1970’s. Except this is mainly wood smoke, not car exhaust and other pollutants. Anyone pining away for eliminations of laws regulating air pollution should look outside and ask themselves if they would like this to be “normal”.

  2. I don’t get how this is protectove of children’s health… Is the indoor air at the school more polluted than the indoor air of the children’s homes? If so, why?

  3. Dieter,
    While you have a good point, remember that many children still walk to school. Some posts on other sites pointed out that this may cause a hardship for working parents who now need to stay home or find childcare, also good points. Perhaps as those posters suggested, the schools should have stayed open and given parents the option to keep their children at home.