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School district closes buildings early due to air quality (updated)


The Washoe County School District announced this afternoon that it will close all school buildings after early release today due to air quality concerns.  The district’s concerns are due, in part, to an inability to adhere to its COVID-19 health and safety protocols, which specify increased intake of fresh outside air.

The announcement came shortly after a previous missive noting that students would be kept inside for the remainder of the school day due to heavy smoke from the Loyalton Fire. Wednesdays are traditionally an early release day for students, with the last dismissal by 2:30 p.m.

Programs that take place on WCSD campuses have been canceled for the day, including:

  • City of Reno
  • City of Sparks
  • Kids Zone
  • Judy’s Kids
  • Boys & Girls Club activities

The district has not indicated whether classes will be canceled tomorrow. This story will be updated if more information is provided.

Update: WCSD has canceled school for Thursday, Aug. 20 due to heavy wildfire smoke in the region. They issued the following statement:

“We have continued to monitor the Loyalton fire situation and other Northern California complex fires throughout the day and have communicated with agency partners. All indicators are that the smoke tomorrow, Thursday August 20, is forecast to be worse than today. 

Of course, this is so very difficult to predict, but given the information available at this time and in consultation with Washoe County Health District, we have decided for the safety of our students and staff, school will be cancelled in-person and distance learning will be cancelled tomorrow, Thursday, August 20.

The situation today is a very good example of how difficult smoke and wind patterns are to predict with 100% certainty. While the prediction for today the air quality was to stay in the moderate range, that was not the case and especially for our schools in the North Valleys areas.

Under our reopening plans, our buses, classrooms, and school buildings must be adequately ventilated with outside air.  We are having to make this decision with the best information we have at this time and to give our families and staff time to prepare and make arrangements for tomorrow.

If you would like more information on the topic of wildfire smoke and COVID-19, please visit washoeschools.net/reopening.”

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