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Director's Dispatch: Air Quality

We have been experiencing a longer than usual period of unstable air quality. At ISD, for the health and wellness of our students, we monitor the air quality and make adjustments as needed. We use the Air Quality and Outdoor Activity Guidance for Schools published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a numerical representation of the concentration of air pollutants over a specific time. The EPA uses a color system to communicate the different levels of air pollution and provides guidance on any limitations on outside activities based on the AQI. For example, with an AQI of 125 students could continue to have outdoor recess or physical education classes, but students with asthma would have to be closely monitored. If the AQI exceeds 200, all outdoor activities should be canceled.

Over the past year, we have used commercial applications that reported the AQI. The measuring devices were in different parts of the city, with the main application reporting the AQI for Rufisque. We recently purchased several air quality monitors that will give us AQI readings specifically for our campus and are monitoring the AQI for campus throughout the day. Moving forward, we will use readings from our devices to make decisions regarding changes in activities.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen many days where the AQI is acceptable in the morning and then rises throughout the day, occasionally peaking over 200 in the mid-afternoon. This rise has resulted in us canceling outdoor after-school activities. To give parents the maximum notice possible, we will be deciding by 1:00 pm based on the available data if we are going to cancel after-school activities. We realize this may cause some problems for parents, and we will supervise the students until they can be picked up. As always, our number one priority is the health of our students.

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