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Burnaby school district keeping an eye on air quality

Schools remain open, but district is receiving advice from the medical health officer to keep students safe in the face of the smoky outdoor air
classroom, open windows, stock photo
Keeping classroom windows open to encourage fresh air circulation may be a good idea in a time of COVID-19 - but not when the outdoor air looks like today's. The Burnaby school district has received advice from the medical health officer on how to continue to keep students safe in school buildings.

So what happens when you want to keep the windows open for fresh air circulation – but the air outside isn’t fresh at all?

That’s the dilemma facing schools in Burnaby and around the region today in the face of the continued air quality advisory for Metro Vancouver, which has seen high concentrations of fine particulate matter caused by wildfire smoke heading north from Washington and Oregon.

In New Westminster, where the air quality was further exacerbated by a major fire at Westminster Pier, three schools most affected by that fire are closed today.

Burnaby schools remain open, but the school district is taking steps to protect students from the air.

The district posted an advisory on its website noting that it has been closely monitoring the air quality situation and has sought advice from Fraser Health.

Schools have a plan to take steps advised by the local medical health officer, including:

  • limiting time outside;
  • keeping exterior windows and doors closed;
  • being ready to support students with asthma or other health conditions impacted by the air quality; and
  • advising against strenuous outdoor activities.

“We continue to be advised that the layers of control for the prevention of COVID-19 – such as daily health checks, hand hygiene, learning groups, maximizing physical distance and minimizing physical contact – are protective and remain strong,” the district noted, adding it will continue to follow all health and safety guidelines as provided by health authorities related to both COVID-19 and air quality warnings.

See for the most up-to-date bulletins from the district.