South Bay schools stay open despite unhealthy air quality

Chris Nguyen Image
ByChris Nguyen KGO logo
Saturday, November 17, 2018
South Bay schools stay open despite unhealthy air quality
While many schools in San Francisco and beyond canceled classes for the day because of the air quality, some schools in the South Bay stayed open through it all.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As smoke from the Camp Fire hovers throughout the region, empty school playgrounds and athletic fields have become a familiar sight because of the unhealthy air quality.

"My kids, they're coughing during the night," said San Jose resident Betty Abarca. "They don't feel good. They wake up, they don't want to go to school."

LIST: Events canceled in Bay Area due to Camp Fire smoke

Out of the 31 school districts in Santa Clara County, all but three chose to stay open Friday at the recommendation of the county board of education, as well as the county health department.

"We want to ensure that students have access to safe, indoor, clean air," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County public health officer. "Families, of course, don't have to send their child to school, if they feel that on balance, if it's better for their own child's health to stay at home."

The San Jose Unified School District-- which serves more than 30,000 students-- stayed open for business, but kept kids inside all day because of the smoke.

"We have great filtration systems in our schools," said SJUSD chief nurse Melinda Landau. "The air conditioning filters out the particulates and makes the smoke less damaging for our students."

A number of parents were happy with the decision to remain open.

"They're having this break coming up already because of Thanksgiving, you know, what we're all trying to get to, so it's good you know that they're staying in school," said Ken Reyes, SJUSD parent.

RELATED: California Wildfires: Check current Bay Area air quality levels