Dear Elementary Campus Parents:
It won’t be too long before the kids are back, skipping through the halls of the “EC.” I hope everyone has had a great summer!
This has been a terrible summer for smoke, and many of us have been suffering. With the air quality in mind, we have been thinking about how the EC might best respond to the needs of our students to minimize any potential harmful effects of the smoke. I checked with Alberta Health Services and the Government of Canada, and was fortunate enough to get some wisdom from an MD who is an assistant professor in the Division of Respirology at the University of Calgary.
In consideration of this information, and after thoughtful discussion, we have decided to adopt the following policy:
On days where the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI – see below) is between 1 and 3, students will go outside as usual.
If the AQHI is between 4 and 6, students will go outside as usual. Parents know their children best, so we are asking parents of students with respiratory issues who are considered “At Risk,” to have discussions with them regarding what activities to avoid when there are air quality concerns, and how to avoid them.
It isn’t realistic or possible for EC staff to know and monitor students who are At Risk. Supervising staff will, however, be asked to keep an eye out for anyone displaying signs of respiratory distress.
If the AQHI is between 7 and 10, we will keep students in at recess and during PE classes.
We could send students out and suggest that they not engage in strenuous exercise, but with children ages 5-9, it isn’t realistic to expect that they will be able to consistently follow the suggestion, and it is not realistic for supervisors to carefully monitor 420 students.
We will allow individual teachers, at their discretion, to take their classes outside for some light exercise. One teacher can more ably ensure that students are not exercising strenuously when the health risk is high. When a teacher does decide to take his/her class outside, “At Risk” students will stay inside and join another class at that grade level until their class returns.
No one will go outside at all.
We will stay in touch with staff, students and parents to see if this policy seems effective. The poor air quality is a relatively new occurrence, but experts are suggesting we should expect it to occur more often. There are few guidelines for schools available, so we are really inventing as we go. When there is uncertainty, especially when it comes to the health and safety of our students, we prefer to err on the side of caution.
I welcome your thoughts and expertise.