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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane schools keeping kids indoors because of hazardous wildfire smoke

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 5, 2017, 1:52 p.m.

Heavy smoke blankets downtown Spokane looking to the west, Sept. 4, 2017, in Spokane Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Heavy smoke blankets downtown Spokane looking to the west, Sept. 4, 2017, in Spokane Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane-area schools are canceling sports practices and keeping students indoors to protect them from the hazardous wildfire smoke that has blanketed the region.

No classes were canceled because of the smoke, but kids in the Spokane, Mead and Central Valley school districts were kept inside during lunch and recess. Physical activities were canceled, while some lighter, less strenuous activities were held indoors.

Kevin Morrison, a spokesman for Spokane Public Schools, said maintenance workers were replacing ventilation filters and taking steps to keep smoky air from entering school buildings. He said parents who are concerned about their children’s health don’t need to send them to school.

“They know their children best,” Morrison said. “If they have any health concerns, then they are certainly free to keep their kids at home as an excused absence.”

Special Coverage: Inland Northwest Air Quality

Get the latest updates on air quality conditions from around the region here. | Read more »

Wednesday is the first day of classes in the Central Valley School District, and spokeswoman Marla Nunberg Genther said school officials would limit students’ time outdoors until the smoke clears significantly. Students would be kept indoors while waiting for their buses to arrive, she said.

Gonzaga University spokesman Pete Tormey said he wasn’t aware of any classes being canceled. He said the university sent a message to all students, faculty and staff on Monday advising them to keep an eye on air quality reports.

The Eastern Washington University campus is practically empty because the summer quarter recently ended and fall classes haven’t begun, spokesman Dave Meany said.

The effects of the smoke have been felt in Pullman, too. In a campuswide alert, Washington State University officials advised students suffering from smoke inhalation to contact the health and wellness office.

“Classes will proceed as normal but individuals are encouraged to stay indoors when not traveling to or from classes or work,” the statement said. “Outdoor activities should be avoided, if possible. People experiencing respiratory distress should contact a health care professional immediately.”

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