Seattle-area schools cancel outdoor activities amid severe air quality

Oct 20, 2022, 1:24 PM

air quality...

School districts across the Seattle-area have canceled outdoor activities due to poor air quality. (Bill Kaczaraba)

(Bill Kaczaraba)

Classes are in session at Seattle Public Schools and Tacoma Public Schools, but both districts have instructed their schools to cancel all outdoor activities due to unhealthy air quality in western Washington.

Recess, physical education, and sporting events are all being moved inside or called off, the districts said.

More from Sam Campbell: ‘It was wild’: Dog-boarding business on rapid Nakia Creek Fire evacuation

“It’s currently rating in the hazardous category in quite a bit of the area, so it certainly will be a problem not just for people who have breathing conditions, but also for the general population,” said Logan Johnson, a meteorologist with National Weather Service.

The announcements, which came Wednesday and remained in effect Thursday, are in response to severely polluted air around the Puget Sound Region.

Inundated with smoke from nearby wildfires, Seattle’s air quality ranked as the worst in the world multiple times throughout the day Wednesday and Thursday, briefly exchanging places with Delhi, India, according to IQAir. Seattle and Portland both logged unhealthier air than Beijing in the index’s ranking.

Private schools like Seattle Waldorf School and Olympia Waldorf School have canceled classes. At Seattle Waldorf, all campuses were closed from the air, which was last listed at 202 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index. The school told KIRO Newsradio it will reopen if the index drops below 200, to a level their air filters can withstand.

“I feel like now we are seeing everything that we were warned about,” one parent told KIRO Newsradio outside Lowell Elementary. “You know you get some cabin fever, but you got to do what you got to do to get creative, and everything turns into science.”

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Seattle-area schools cancel outdoor activities amid severe air quality