Area School Districts Keep Students Indoors Due to Air Quality

Due to continued smoke from wildfires burning throughout Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, the current air quality index for Pendleton remains at “Very Unhealthy.” Although conditions can vary in surrounding communities, several school districts are keeping students indoors for recess and P.E. classes and having sports practices and games indoors when possible.

The Umatilla County Health Department advises communities throughout Umatilla County to continue to limit outdoor exercise and to stay indoors in well-ventilated areas to the extent possible.

The Athena-Weston School District, Pendleton School District, Morrow County School District and others are keeping students indoors. Pendleton High School said for outdoor sports and activities this weekend, they will evaluate the air quality index and consider student health and safety to determine if events will happen or not. “We are kind of in a holding pattern right now, making decisions on the latest air quality conditions for games and activities based on health and safety for our students,” said Troy Jerome, PHS athletics and activities. Parents are encouraged to check school websites for updates on air quality and school athletic/activity calendars for changes in games and practices.

According to a press release from the Umatilla County Public Health Department, “Very Unhealthy” on the index from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality means “People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion”. In these conditions even some healthy people can have breathing problems. People with asthma, lung and heart disease have an increased risk of symptoms or worsening of their disease.

The health department recommends:
Everyone should stay indoors, do only light activities and keep windows closed if it is not too hot. Run air conditioners on re-circulate and close the outside air intake. Use indoor air cleaners with HEPA filters, if available. If you must be outdoors, wear an N-95 respirator mask. People with chronic diseases should check with their health care provider before wearing a mask. People with asthma, lung and heart disease, or have had a stroke should check with their health care provider for advice about leaving the area. Anyone with shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, or difficulty moving or speaking should call their health care provider or call 911.

Guidance on outdoor activities for schoolchildren can be found in this Oregon Health Authority document (PDF).

Oregon continues to monitor air quality throughout the state and updated reports can be found at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality website.

Additional information is available on the website about Oregon smoke conditions.

The Umatilla County Health Department will continue to monitor the air quality reports and issue warnings and press releases as indicated by changes in the situation. Please contact the department at 541-278-5432 if you have further questions or concerns regarding air quality or any other health matter.

Release Date