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Smoky skies cancel outdoor time, track meets for Langley students

The school district has been monitoring the bad air quality this week
The Langley School District board offices. (Langley Advance Times files)

Heavy smoke from wildfires and poor air quality has resulted in indoor lunch hours at some Langley schools, along with curtailed outdoor gym and athletic activities.

Since smoke from wildfires in the Fraser Valley and Washington State began rolling into Langley over the weekend, the Langley School District has been monitoring the situation, said spokesperson Joanne Abshire.

School principals and other administrators were advised to implement temporary measures including:

• Allowing students who are sensitive to the smoke to remain indoors during lunch/breaks;

• Closing exterior doors and windows;

• Rescheduling outdoor activities, particularly strenuous activities like PE;

• Closely monitoring students with asthma or other breathing conditions; and

• Closing doors and windows and utilizing filtered ventilation systems while the advisory is in effect.

On Tuesday Oct. 18, some schools kept students indoors over the lunch hour.

Some extracurricular sports, including cross-country events and outdoor team sports, have been postponed.

The Langley Environmental Awareness Program, also known as the outdoor education program, shifted to indoor learning on Tuesday and Wednesday at its base in Fort Langley Elementary.

Abshire said the extra health measures would continue through the week, depending on air quality, and air quality info was being shared through its website and social media.

“The health and safety of students and staff continue to be a priority for the district,” said Abshire. “Schools are adaptable and can make amendments to programming in these circumstances because of experiences in recent years.”

With the spike in wildfires and smoke haze over the Lower Mainland in recent years, this isn’t the first time the district has had to respond to low air quality.

There was already one incident of an air quality advisory affecting schools earlier this year, on Sept. 11, and another was on Sept. 13, 2020, Abshire said.

After a months-long drought for much of the region, rain is in the forecast for Friday.

READ MORE: B.C.’s extended summer breaks more records, but weather office says rain approaches

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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