A sample of a recent Interactive Map of Air Quality for our region, courtesy of the EPA and the AirNow.gov website.
With ongoing effects from the Bolt Creek Fire impacting our communities, several recent decisions involving relocating, postponing, or cancelling of afterschool sports, activities, and elementary indoor recesses have needed to be made. The purpose of this update is to share what factors and considerations lead to these types of decisions being made and the process Riverview goes through when making them.
Riverview School District checks two main resources when determining air quality (AQI) and assessing the safety of our students and staff. We monitor AirNow.gov, a service provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Health Air Quality Guide for School & Child Care Activities. Regarding sporting events, we will have discussions with districts competing with our students and assess their air quality and conditions, should the need to relocate an event is necessary. It is important to note that districts are left to make their own determination on how to properly evaluate AQI and if conditions are healthy or unhealthy.
Should our local AQI be deemed unhealthy, schools make determinations on whether to bring students in for recess, move practice indoors, or reschedule, relocate, or cancel/postpone an event. For athletic events, we contact athletic directors in other districts, have conversations with Riverview School District administration, and coordinate with our Transportation team. If relocation is possible, we must determine that we have Transportation available and that the conditions are safe for competition. The efforts are designed, in part, to avoid cancellations and allow teams at Tolt Middle School and Cedarcrest High School to complete their scheduled seasons.
Questions have also been raised regarding the timing of these decisions. Transportation is a key consideration. For some teams on our high school sports schedules, schools or locations can be as far as two hours away. If AQI is impacted in one place and not the other, decisions must be made prior to the time when drivers would necessarily begin those routes. There are costs associated with every bus trip. While decisions are made with the best information available at the time, there may be situations where events are postponed or cancelled only to later learn that AQI may have otherwise improved.
Decisions are made with the best of intentions. For cancelled or postponed events, efforts will be made to make up those events while considering facility availability, potential dates and times for such events to occur and other factors as indicated above.
We understand the frustration these recent weeks may have caused for some of our students and families. Riverview must consider the health and safety of all students, families, and staff when making decisions related to AQI. We hope this information helps answer some common questions which have surfaced in recent weeks.