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Outdoor school sports in Burnaby, New Westminster cancelled because of wildfire smoke

The Burnaby New Westminster Schools Athletic Association has cancelled a cross-country race and postponed field hockey and soccer games because of poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke.
A Burnaby South Secondary player tries to push past a pair of New Westminster Secondary defenders during a senior boys soccer game at Mercer Stadium in New Westminster recently. The senior boys playoffs were put on pause this week because of poor air quality in Metro Vancouver.

The Burnaby New Westminster Schools Athletic Association has cancelled some outdoor school sports until air quality in the Lower Mainland improves.

“When Metro Vancouver is making international headlines for being among the places with the worst air quality in the world, and when you look outside and can’t see the mountains, buildings or trees in the distance, you know without even having to check the air quality index that it’s not good for your health to be breathing that in more than necessary,” said Brandon Curr, the Burnaby school district director responsible for athletics.

Burnaby is included in a special air quality statement warning of high concentrations of fine particulate matter across Metro Vancouver, mostly due to smoke from wildfires in BC and Washington State.

To keep students healthy and safe, the district has worked with the athletic association to cancel outdoor games for the time being, Curr said.

A cross-country race scheduled for today at Central Park has been cancelled, and soccer and field hockey games that were supposed to go ahead yesterday and today have been rescheduled, according to the district. 

The school district posted a message on its website yesterday outlining the ways it was working to limit smoke exposure for students and staff, including closing windows and doors, postponing and reducing outdoor activities, allowing students who are sensitive to smoke to stay inside during breaks and closely monitoring students with asthma and other breathing conditions.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor