Poor air quality prompts health advisory, early school dismissal

Smoky air caused schools to cut their days short, libraries to close and a health advisory from public officials. Here's the view from the El Cerrito hills at Arlington and Moeser. (Photo by Mike Kinney).

The West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) dismissed students from school at noon and libraries were closed today due to poor air quality from wildfires and power outages.

Afterschool programs and extracurricular activities, including sporting events, were cancelled as well today, as smoky air descended upon the region, according to WCCUSD.

However, district officials announced early this evening that all schools will be open Tuesday. The district cited power restoration at all but one school, and an expectation of improving air quality in the next few days, for the decision to remain open.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia also reported this evening that another planned power shutoff set for Tuesday will only affect about 200 customers in the County, in the Moraga area. West County will not be impacted.

Earlier today, residents in western and central cities in Contra Costa County were warned by public health officials to stay inside with windows closed and to limit outdoor activity — particularly those with respiratory sensitivities like asthma, lung or heart disease.

“Air quality in these areas have been measured at unhealthy levels this morning as a result of smoke from large fires burning in the region,” the County said.

PG&E worked today to restore power to hundreds of thousands impacted by the third Public Power Safety Shutoff event, which began Saturday. As of 2:30 pm, PG&E said that 43,590 customers remained without power in Contra Costa County, county officials reported.

For the most up-to-date air quality maps, visit www.airnow.gov. More health information about wildfire smoke is available at cchealth.org/wildfire-smoke.

Also, for comprehensive County information on air quality, power outages, and resources like charging station locations and links to information on school and library closures, go here.