MEDFORD, Ore. — As the smoke begins to settle in yet again in the Rogue Valley, it has health and school officials worrying about how kids will handle the air quality when school activities begin. But some plans are already in place to help students in the smoke.
Officials with Jackson County Health will hold a meeting with school leaders across the region next week to discuss ways to protect children, who are more sensitive to the effects of wildfire smoke.
Medford schools already have a tentative plan in place if the smoke sticks around to the start of the school year. Superintendent Phil Long said district officials will be monitoring the air quality each day, then follow a set of guidelines from the Department of Environmental Quality on how much outdoor physical activity kids should do. For example, good air quality means everything is OK for recess outside outside. Sensitive levels mean children should limit how much they exert themselves, and very unhealthy levels will keep kids indoors.
“How do we balance quality teaching when we know there’s some unhealthy air out there, or there’s going to be patches of it,” Long said. “That’s the challenge for us.”
Long said in his 30 years in Southern Oregon, he can’t remember a time when smoke degraded air quality this badly.