DUSD Establishes Air Quality Guidelines and Creates Sensor Network
October 9, 2019
Dear Dublin Unified School District Community,
One of the most challenging issues faced by school districts in the recent past has been how to address air quality events resulting from wildfires. Due to the unprecedented nature and frequency of these fires, state and local governing bodies were not prepared with a set of guidelines and ultimately left the task of addressing the issue in the hands of local districts. This created frustration among students, staff, parents, and schools around the state.
Unfortunately, predictions are that wildfire activity is likely to increase in the coming years. As a result, the Dublin Unified School District has created its own set of guidelines - one of the first districts in the state to do so. The guidelines outline steps each school site should take during recess/lunch, physical education, athletics practice, and sporting events, based on air quality levels.
Background on New District Guidelines
The new district guidelines are based on recent recommendations from the California Department of Education, California Air Resources Board, California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, California School Board Association, Association of California School Administrators, and the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. In building our guidelines, we also consulted with the interim health officer at the Alameda County Department of Public Health, and a local allergy/asthma specialty group.
DUSD Sensor Network
To implement our guidelines, we need access to accurate data. The district will leverage the EPA air quality sensor located in Livermore but has also installed air quality sensors at Amador, Dougherty, and Dublin High. The installation of our sensor network places Dublin among a select group of districts taking bold steps to ensure student and staff safety.
Implementing Air Quality Guidelines
When air quality is scheduled to reach the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” range, the district will closely monitor our sensor network and email all schools with current air quality levels. School sites will be responsible for implementing air quality guidelines in the same way they are responsible for implementing inclement weather guidelines.
Air quality events can affect sensitive groups differently than others. Our staff is aware of individuals (students and staff) that are in a sensitive group and will make the appropriate adjustments to their activity levels. Sensitive groups include individuals with asthma or other heart/lung conditions. If your child is in a sensitive group and their school is not aware of the condition, please inform them as soon as possible.
If an air quality event has the potential to impact an athletic competition, the district will consult with the competing district and relevant guidelines available from governing bodies before making any decision of relocating or rescheduling the event.
Information on N95 Masks
Maintenance and Facilities staff working outdoors will be advised to reschedule activity or use N95 masks when AQI levels reach the "unhealthy" stage.
N95 masks are not recommended for children. In fact, according to the interim health officer at the Alameda County Department of Public Health, there are no N95 equivalent masks approved for use by children in the United States.
School Site Closures
Regarding school site closures, the district will not consider this option until air quality reaches the “Very Unhealthy” range. At that point, decisions will be made based on the expected duration of the event and the level of air pollution. Communication regarding a closure will be made by the district and will be texted and emailed to the community. Conditions that justify a closure will likely not come as a surprise, so look out for updates.
We understand that not everyone will agree with the guidelines we have put in place. The reality is, it’s impossible to reach full consensus on this topic. It is better to have guidelines based on the recommendation from numerous state agencies than to have no guidelines at all.
The health and safety of our students and staff is a top priority and we are proud to be among the first districts in our area to install a sensor network and to have a set of guidelines in place.
Thank you to our Board of Trustees for adopting these new policies and helping prepare our schools for inclement air quality events.
Dr. Dave Marken
Dublin Unified School District