Poor air quality forces Utah students indoors

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SALT LAKE CITY – With orange and red air quality alerts in effect along the Wasatch Front, it causes schools to take notice. Some schools had to decide whether it was safe for students to play outside during recess.

For the first time this school year, Bell View Elementary moved recess inside as air quality worsened throughout the day. When particulate matter 2.5 is above 55.5, the Utah Department of Health recommends administrators keep all students indoors.

Jeff Haney, spokesperson for Canyons School District says principals monitor these numbers very closely during the inversion system to determine if kids can go outside and play or not.

“They come in everyday and check that air quality index,” Haney said.

On Orange days, students who have asthma or other respiratory problems are advised to stay indoors for recess, but schools can make exceptions.

“If parents are concerned about the health of their kids and request their kids to stay inside then the principal and teacher will definitely work with the parents if they make that request,” said Haney.

Brittany Guerra is the director of the department of Health’s asthma program. She says it is up to individual schools and they fully support their decision. She helped create recess guidelines for schools, which follow the Department of Environmental Quality designations.

“I encourage parents to work with the schools and their physicians to get that message to schools if they feel their sensitive to poor air quality,” Guerra said.

Canyons is also encouraging parents to do their part. They’ve created an Idle-Free Zone at all their schools.

“When they're sitting in line in the parking lot, waiting for their kids to get out and come into the car, we ask them to turn off the key.  Every little bit helps,” said Haney.

For more information about the air quality recess guidelines, click here:

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