Based on a shared recommendation from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the County Office of Education, Morgan Hill Unified School District leaders have kept all its schools open Nov. 16 despite a continued “unhealthy” air quality designation.

“The Public Health Department remains firm that the current (Air Quality Index) numbers do not warrant a school closure,” said Supt. Steve Betando in a Nov. 16 message to MHUSD families posted on Facebook. “We continue to monitor the air quality which is better than yesterday but still projected to be unhealthy today.”

The latest AQI reading is 160, which remains in the “unhealthy” designation due to Northern California wildfires, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

In a separate message to MHUSD staff, Betando explained that schools will remain open as “an option for parents” since many are “in distress with no day care and scrambling to find places for their children.”

“To me, the best decision to keep schools open is that it supports true equity for families less advantaged or in a bind related to work responsibilities,” he wrote.

School officials are anticipating “very low attendance today (Nov. 16)” and shared that some students “even started a petition asking me to close the schools today,” Betando shared with staff.

Three local county school districts are closed today, according to a Nov. 16 press release from the SCCOE.

“Based upon the advice of public health officials and the ability of schools to limit outside activities, schools remain a safe place and provide consistency for students,” said County Schools Supt. Mary Ann Dewan. “While school will remain open, we respect that some families may choose to keep their student at home based on medical advice related to health issues or family hardship. If choosing to keep your student at home, please follow the normal procedure for reporting, and the absences will be excused.”

In Dewan’s message, she also provided recommendations for students staying at home:

• Stay indoors in an area with filtered air. Particle pollution can get indoors, so consider purchasing an air cleaner if you live in an area with high levels of particle pollution;

• Air cleaners that remove particles include high-efficiency mechanical filters and electronic air cleaners, such as electrostatic precipitators. Avoid using an air cleaner that works by generating ozone, which will increase the pollution in your home;

• If you do not have air cleaners in your home, try to go somewhere that does have air filtration. This could, for example, be a friend’s home, if it has air filtration;

• Please keep your families indoors and limit outdoor and or strenuous activity;

• Drink plenty of water;

• Watch your child for symptoms including coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness. Even children who do not have asthma can experience these symptoms;

• If symptoms occur, your child might need to take a break, do a less intense activity, stop all activity, go indoors, or use quick-relief medicine as prescribed. If symptoms don’t improve, get medical help.

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