Get Smart about Wildfire Smoke: Clear Guidelines for California Schools

By Adem Lewis / in , , /

Five your friendly. Your only source refers down from the flight. Check [inaudible] One two good morning. Thank you all for joining us and for being here today my name is. Mike McGuire to represent northern California in the California State Senate from the Golden Gate Bridge in the organ Bob border. We’re gathered today to be able to unveil new. New and clear guidelines California school districts can utilize. When their region becomes socked in with wild land fire smoke? In these guidelines are coming just in time. Just in time for fire season and the twenty nineteen twenty twenty school year. Over the last decade the Golden State is seen the largest most destructive and deadly as fires in American history Richard our communities. These fires have absolutely devastated large swaths of this great state. And they’ve advanced a sustained situation that we have not dealt with with such frequency or intensity in the past. Entire regions of California being socked in with wildfire smoke days on it. What a wildfire Kerr’s nearby or in the community that folks live in? The decision to close schools is a simple. One however as we seen over the last several years wildfire smoke can in has blanketed dozens and dozens of communities hundreds of miles away. From the location of the wildfire for the greater part of the week. School districts have been forced to make difficult. Last minute decisions on whether to cancel classes. Remain open or modify school events with very little or no scientific data at their fingertips. The lack of guidelines in information has resulted in some instances in haphazard decision making. And unfortunately this situation is now part of our new reality as a California. Entire regions being inundated with sick unhealthy wildfire smoke for days on end. And we knew that action had to be taken. Leaders from the educational community from across Californi. Air quality in public health communities all came together to form a working group which developed these data driven guidelines that we are proud to be unveiling today. These guidelines were developed following months of meetings between multiple statewide organizations in public agencies and will be deployed to every school district every school district across California. Insuring they’re prepared for the upcoming school year we could not be more grateful to California apartment education into pertinent Thurman for their incredible support this project. These guidelines are intended to spark a local conversation between school districts public health officers air districts in the community. Some California counties and school districts have already begun this process and created their own data driven air quality standards which is fantastic news. But we know the reality the vast majority school districts have not created their own guidelines which is why we are all here today. These guidelines are not meant to supersede any protocols over guidelines local school authorities have already adopte. In fact we encourage school districts that haven’t already addressed this issue to begin the conversation now to be added to adopt their own air quality standards. Prior to the start of the twenty nineteen twenty twenty school year. Now the unveiling today they will have a template with the document we’re releasing. That couldn’t come soon enough. Because we know California’s next wildfire. It’s not a matter of if [inaudible] It’s when. And we’re grateful for the collaboration that led to the creation of these clear guidelines which included the California air pollution control officers association. The California department of education the California air resources board. The association of California school administrators the California school boards association and the California county superintendents educational services association and of course we are very grateful to the the administrators association. Access is well. Thank you all for taking the time to go to be here I would now like to introduce totally. Mr Lee is the executive director of the California air pollution control officers association he’s going to do a deep dive a deep dive on the guidelines what the new guidelines will accomplish. How schools in their districts are expected to be a work together in the months and years to come? And what this data will do to be able to keep our students in public school staff safe. From these. Events a wildfire smoke Mr Lee [inaudible] Six they say they’re I’m so in developing these guidelines we coordinated very very closely with our member air districts — They’re based on several acting existin- Outreach programs are developed by remember air districts — Most notably the San Joaquin Valley air district — The bay area air district and another snow mare district — Those programs themselves were developed closely with coordination from — There member school districts and other educational representatives in those respective counties. And the result of those efforts which we are presenting today — Our guidelines are based on significant experience in collaboration. Between their districts and the educational programs within those counties — As center McGuire rating noted — These guidelines are not meant to replace an existing programs at their destruction the school district may already have in place. Rather there a road map to start a dialogue in those areas of the state that may not yet have an educator out reach program. And to assess their districts and the school district and other entities you’re interested in helping parents and students understand. The effect wildfire smoke and help them provide tools to address those impacts — If you look at the guidelines there are various levels that we have that we have called out here in various activities that folks might consider. As those levels are reached. We have not provided any dis the any numbers or discrete data on these guidelines because there are a lot of local. Considerations that need to be taken into account. Whenever — Programs for impacts wildfires Mike might be developed there are a lot of different considerations that need to take into account — We know where the population centers are where the schools are located — And so there is a general sort of opening place here for dialogue — But there are no discrete recommendations the committee’s guidelines because they are meant to guide discussion. I’m KEPCO is hopeful that parents students and educators will find the guidelines useful resource. In developing out reaching contingency plans as we head into the next fire season and we urge you to work closely with your local air districts to ensure that those plans address local needs as I mentioned. We now honor to be able to welcome Mike Walsh Mike is from the Butte county office education he’s a member of the board of trustees. He’s also the immediate past president of the California school boards association. No one knows the destruction at wildfire can bring to community more than Mister Walsh grateful for his leadership. We welcome his words here today. Thank you Senate require on behalf of C. S. B. A. in the Butte county office of education and of course the districts county offices across the state- I wanted thank you for your efforts to bring forth these guidelines that allow for educators — And to to make informed decisions that are driven by data in a set of criteria — It was relatively easy to explain or relatively easy for everyone to understand the decisions that we made M. Q. county regarding the camp fire and impact on paradise income cal this to tell they were. Where the fire what was the most destructive? What wasn’t always that easy to explain — Or offered assistance on what to do with for counties and districts that were being impacted by the toxic fire that were up to hundreds of miles away — This tool will allow for data driven decisions that can easily be understood by educators. And for me more importantly by parents and community members. It gives all of us a common language and shared understanding of how to keep students safe and healthy in the event of these wildfires. The bottom line for us we want kids in school. And we want them there safely and if these guidelines can assist parents. In understanding how we make the decisions. In light of these fires that are becoming are far too commonplace these days. And that these decisions are based on what’s in the best interest of their child’s healt. Then it is well worth the effort and we appreciate that so thank you very much. We owe a debt of gratitude to our next speaker his name is one moralis he’s a director school facilities and transportation for the Calvin department. Of education he has been the point for the Cathleen apartment education along with the superintendent on this issue — And will be rolling these guidelines out to each and every school districts across the state in the coming weeks and months we welcome to the podium. Good morning everyone. On behalf of our states a percent of public instruction Toni Thurman I want to thank Senate McGuire for his leadership in helping to coordinate these efforts. We all know how devastating the wildfires have been in California in recent years. Our students and teachers and parents have not been spared by the destructive forces of the wildfires. The fires anomaly bird or forest in our communities but that impacted schools near and far from the burns on as a have produce and healthier conditions for young students. Without guys in the state of what to do during his on healthier conditions. Our school leaders have struggled to make decisions to protect their students. That it’s been a problem for so many of our schools for too lon. That is why we partner with our colleagues to produce these guidelines. That schools can use to make decisions given their local conditions when they’re experiencing poor outdoor air quality. Now we do want to be clear that this is not the state mandate — But rather a tool that school dishes can use. When they make decisions locall? He is but one factor to consider when making decisions to protect students and perhaps even a close schools. We will also be releasing additional other factors schools consider will make a decision on school closures. We encourage all schools to review this template and to tailor it to meet their local needs. Our department we’ll be putting these guidelines on our website we’ll be sending it out to all districts. And we recommend that all schools review them now before they experience unhealthy air conditions. I with that once again went think — Center McGuire yeah resources board KEPCO — Access yes VA and successor for their cooperation and support in making this possible. Thank you. We’ve been very lucky to be able to have two great agencies at the table focusing on the issue of healthcare quality. That’s KEPCO what is well as the California air resources board and Kurt Kurt pero sues the deputy executive officer for the air resources board has been with us the entire time. Want to say thank you to Kurt for his incredible work and for helping us to get to get these guidelines on the paper and out to schools. Like better introduce our deputy executive officer. Good morning and thank you senator McGuire. I’m happy to be here. Today in support of bringing greater clarity to school districts across California and making decisions that affect. Student health Wiener quality is poor. As we’ve all experienced larger and more frequent and intense wildfires are growing public health problem contributing to reduced air quality for people living near or downwind of fire. Climate change primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels is increasing the frequency and severity of wildfires not only in California. But across the world. Wildfires produce a range of harmful air pollutants. From known cancer causing substances to tiny particles they can aggravate existing health conditions. Killer matter small particles is the principal confronts concern for the relatively short term exposure. That we get from wildfires. Particles from smoke. These particles are very very small and can be pulled into the deep recesses of the long. Health problems related to smoke exposure could be as mild as here or throat irritation. Or as serious as asthma attacks. Or worsening of heart conditions and even stroke. For students the most common concern his asthma. And the worsening of their condition condition and the worst C. and potential for attacks. The first action to protect children is to avoid strenuous activity outdoors. And any activity outdoors is pollution levels rise. And that’s what’s in the tool and the guidance of being talked about today. The safest place to be his indoors with doors closing with windows closed and a new modern H. fax system operating. In addition parents with children with asthma and other respiratory heart conditions should be prepared beforehand. By consulting with their doctors in coordinating with their schools about your child’s condition. Smoke events can occur sadly with little warning as we now. And people impacted by wildfire. Smoke should have knowledge beforehand and that’s what this tool is going to provide. We’re fortunate. There with today’s connected world. All of the data is close at han. The first source of information for anyone is there a local their district who has particular information about their region. Air now dot gov is a very useful tool can be reached directly or through local air district website for the California air resources by website where you can also find additional information about how to protect yourself. And thank you this template we’re gathered here to bring attention to and quite frankly celebrate will help provide greater clarity for schools in your quality regulators. And parents as they work together for health and safety of their children thank you. We’re now going to be distributing the draft guidelines to my right. These guidelines will be distributed to school districts across the state every school district in California in the coming weeks and months we will have those guidelines in the hands of school districts. Prior to the 200-019-2020 school you’re kicking off. And we wanted to ensure that these guidelines were put to bed prior to fire season. Which is why we are here today we now would like to be — Open it up for any questions or comments and if you don’t mind just giving us your first name organization. Hello everyone with about. Forty so that the guidelines so you said it [inaudible] Yeah. The parents will be so I only the Mike. Regardless of what the school. To to make this a ultimately and I can only speak for myself it’s going to be up to the parents. How to be able to send their child to school on those I’m healthy school days? That’s the ultimate decision maker and all of this. And what we have seen across this state especially in the days after the camp. Haphazard decisions were made. No fault of their own I might add by school districts because they did not have the data they need. To make an educated decision either to shelter in place. Or close school altogether. In that is why you’ve seen this coalition that is never come together before come together now to ensure that school districts and parents have the information they need at your fingertips to be able to make an educated decision. Either to keep kids in classrooms cancel outdoor activities or cancel classes altogether would like to go to see if anyone else would like to get a feeling when I may have missed. This wash. So one of the things for us that we really appreciate about this offering the guidelines is that it’ll create a conversation for parents. That they can help with their districts in that again we want the students in the seats and for parents to have the faith in the belief that we are making the most healthy choice for their child. And we have their interests at heart we think that’s a but when and so for us this is an important tool. Because it allows for that conversation and it allows for a local decision around what the school has decided and as long as our schools are having those conversations with parents. We actually believe it or relieve the concerned about parents making decisions that don’t work this in conjunction with what this is a school to make. I don’t care what the school tells me I’m looking at these guidelines and I’m not that muc. No actually we’re hoping it’ll be the opposite. Thank you. And detailed a detailed report – Will be distributed to each school district through Mr Alice as well as a state trooper named schools — Prior to the school year so there will be a detailed information about the guidelines in potential decision making. We like to get open up to see if there’s any additional questions or comments. Please — We have the date on Holly. School districts — Level. Five the current. Yeah — Outlook — Two Kurt or tongue on this but what I can say I represent — Marine cinema and Mendocino counties. All three of those counties the five days when the wind conditions changed. And blew smoke into the North Bay region of California suffered unhealthy air days for the greater part of a week — And it became crystal clear to us. Crystal clear to the superintendent’s school boards that we need data at the fingertips of educational leaders to be able to make an educated decision. Either keep school open. And by the way because it’s not healthy — Levels they closed down schools for the greater part of the week indoor keep kid shelter in place but I’ll turn it over to Kirk order tongue if you’d like to be a filling when I made this. Hi I want to add just one thing. Schools need understand quite frankly all of Californians need understand that they are potential for being exposed to unhealthy levels of smoke. From the car fire from the the the tragedy in Butte county the smoke was experienced it as far away as San Francisco. Not some place that we would normally think of as being impacted by wild fire smoke. So what’s important is that all schools and all parents be thinking about this tool and how to protect themselves. It’s a relatively new phenomenon to be able to have the intensit. The blanketing of wildfire smoke for so many days during the summer and fall months here in California — It is become crystal clear that our districts in the state. In the name of student health need to be able to have these guidelines that will one start the conversation with local air districts in into bill to give them clear guidelines on decisions they may need to be able to make. With parents — As well. Let me to see if we have any final questions or comments. Again we wanna take a moment to say thank you. The gentleman that are here with me we have several folks who were sitting at the table for the past many months thank you all for coming together. There will be — Each of our experts will be here for individual questions or comments we’re grateful that all of you can today in again thank you to each and every agency in the representatives for their hard work communicate these guidelines established. On the paper industry schools thank you so much [inaudible] Other [inaudible] Okay

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