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Skyline takes precautions to protect the health of the campus community

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The unhealthy air from ongoing wildfires has forced students to take quick precautions while being outside, whether it’s walking around campus or participating in outdoor activities, and the Skyline administration is swift to keep an eye on air quality to protect student and staff health.

On the Skyline campus this past week, the quad was noticeably empty and many students wore masks, in and outside of buildings. Additionally, classes were cancelled through the end of the week at all three SMCCCD campuses due to the severally unhealthy air quality.

The poor air from recent wildfires has been labeled anywhere from unhealthy to very unhealthy. In an email sent to students Wednesday evening, the Skyline College administration said, “The health and safety of students, faculty and staff are our first priority.”

According to AirNow.gov, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s public website for current local air quality conditions, the Skyline campus is currently in the “very unhealthy” category. On Friday, Nov. 16 at 3 p.m., the Air Quality Index, or AQI, was reported to be 271 in the 94066 zip code, a momentous rating.

The AQI levels for health concerns as described by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District are good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy and hazardous. The “very unhealthy” AQI range (201-300) advises that “active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion.” On the Friday before the Camp Fire began, the city of Sacramento reported an AQI of 67. The AQI in Sacramento on Friday was a staggering 280, a more than four-fold increase.

Around campus following the Butte County fires, Skyline students scurried across the quad with many covering their mouths with shirts, scarves or masks.

“I’m staying inside, trying not to breathe in and taking paths less outside,” said Keelee Dorr, a second-year criminology student. “I’m not aware of the health center at Skyline and I don’t know where it is.”

The Health Center located inside the Students Services office in Building 2 offers students free N95-rated masks on a drop-in basis. The N95 is a particulate-filtering mask that filters at least 95 percent of airborne particles per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The N95 mask helps decrease some of the (bad) air coming into the respiratory system,” said Cornelia Tjandra, a nurse practitioner in the campus health center. “Eventually the bad air will leave our bodies and it might take longer for people who are smokers.”

On the Skyline soccer field, both men’s and women’s teams recently canceled games due to unhealthy air. The last two games of the season were canceled for the women’s soccer team and the men’s soccer team canceled one game.

On Monday, the men’s soccer game “was moved to Cabrillo College for better air,” said Joe Morello, the Skyline athletic director and dean of Kinesiology/Athletics/Dance.

The men’s soccer team made the playoffs and are scheduled to compete at Delta College in Stockton on Saturday, Nov. 17.

“Men’s soccer exercised on stationary bikes and watched films instead of practicing outside,” Morello said. “No sports were held outside, except archery as it is not an exertion activity. We’ve canceled just about everything,” Morello added.

The groundskeepers at Skyline face major risks when doing their jobs outdoors and are currently required to wear N95 masks when outside.

“The grounds team can request to go home due to smoke affecting them, their kids or a family member,” said the district Energy and Sustainability Manager Joe Fullerton.

The good news is that Muni and SamTrans offered free rides to everyone on local transit on Friday, Nov. 16 to provide alternatives to being outdoors.

With the air quality returning to “unhealthy,” classes and campus resources are set to resume on Monday, Nov. 19. Forecasts by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District show an AQI in the “moderate” category on Wednesday, the last day of classes before the Thanksgiving holiday recess.

 

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The Skyline College Health Center is located in Building 2, inside the Students Services office.

The hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

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The student news site of Skyline College.
Skyline takes precautions to protect the health of the campus community