School districts make adjustments to recess, sports due to wildfire smoke

The smoke from the Canadian wildfires has posed problems for schools and playing sports in these conditions.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 3:20 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The smoke from the Canadian wildfires has posed problems for schools and playing sports in these conditions.

Heavy smoke could be seen across western Massachusetts and the northeast for a second day in a row on Wednesday, due to the Canadian wildfires. Carlos Kuilan of Springfield told Western Mass News that he had concerns about his kids being outside during the school day.

“Maybe my kids, when they’re in school and in the playground outside with them,” Kuilan said.

Across the state line in Connecticut, statewide sports tournaments were cancelled, but the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) decided to keep games on as scheduled across the Bay State. Many school districts shared how they are responding to the air quality alert in place. Holyoke Public Schools told us in a statement, in part:

“Holyoke Public Schools is taking precautions for students and staff who may be sensitive to poor air quality in the region as a result of the wildfires in Canada...Among those precautions are inside recess periods or shortened outside recess for students to reduce their exposure.”

In Springfield, they also took precautions. The district told us in a statement:

“We’ve been working closely with the nurses in the building and with any students with acute asthma issues...Outdoor activities have not been completely restricted, just reduced, and any students with asthma are not going outside and had a different option for recess.”

Chicopee Public Schools said all outdoor events should be avoided and further north, Gateway Regional Schools moved all outdoor activities inside.

Meanwhile, this Sunday as western Massachusetts welcomes some of the top athletes in the world as they participate in the first-ever Ironman 70.3 Western Massachusetts, officials said they are keeping a close eye on the air quality.

“We are going to monitor carefully in coordination with our local officials in coordination with Baystate Health to make smart decisions…We’re going to manage it down here, just like we would with water quality, so we will be in coordination with our health department. We have strict standards, just like with water quality and the air quality similarly. As an example, our team is under working orders today to be inside,” said Ironman Regional Director Dave Christen.