School Closed When Northern Fires Reached the Bay


News Editor


On Nov. 15, an email went out to the entire Pinewood community explaining that school was to be cancelled on Friday, Nov. 16; administration cited the risk the poor air quality posed for students and faculty as reasoning for the decision. Other public and private schools across the Bay Area took similar measures, encouraging students to avoid breathing in the harmful smoke particles in the air.

Over a week before the cancellation, a smoke cloud rolled into the Bay Area from multiple fires in Northern California, and harmful particles entered the air; the local air quality index rose quickly from under 50 to close to 200 in a matter of days. During the night of Nov. 15, the AQI rose past 200 in Los Altos, and many websites monitoring the smoke encouraged Bay Area residents to stay indoors as much as possible.

In general, the announcement was well-received by the student body, many of whom had concerns themselves for the safety of themselves and their peers.

“The Air Quality Index went above 200, which is extremely dangerous, and there are a lot of students who have asthma and breathing problems as well. Even if students didn’t have breathing problems it’s still dangerous for them to breathe in the particles,” junior Esmi Pistelak said.

Additionally, the cancellation came as a welcome measure of safety to students with breathing problems, which only became more difficult to deal with as air quality continued to worsen and they found it more challenging to be outside.

“I have asthma. Sometimes, when there’s a ton of smoke in the air, it feels like something is pushing down on my chest. So being outside is not the best situation,” junior Chloe Fiske said.

However, during the week of Pinewood’s Thanksgiving Break, the arrival of rainy weather to the Bay Area created windier conditions and helped drive away the smoke; and air quality returned to near-normal with students’ return to school on Nov. 26.


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