By Tess McIntyre, Annie Mitchell & Molly Burke,
The Davis Joint Unified School District announced on Nov. 15 that all schools and offices in its area will be closed for Nov. 16 due to the steadily worsening air quality in Davis resulting from the northern Camp Fire in Butte County that has killed 63 people.
The Air Quality Index was 335 at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15, which falls into the “hazardous” level of AQI– the worst level that the Environmental Protection Agency describes as “emergency conditions.” The AQI will remain in the “hazardous” range through Nov. 17, according to aqicn.org.
Though many students are concerned that a day may be added later in the school year, DJUSD public information officer Maria Clayton said that California has been excusing days from schools shut down in relation to fires. DJUSD will consider filing for this exemption, meaning that the day may be excused.
Seniors Elliot Chan and Quentin Javary took their concerns about the air quality to the district on Nov. 15 in the form of a petition. Their petition cited a UCLA study that correlates air pollution to a decline in IQ, as well as asthma statistics from the Center of Disease Control.
“Closing schools will prioritize the health of students over less important factors such as district funding, and whatever last minute tests teachers can put together before Thanksgiving break. For the sake of our health, we ask, please close all schools tomorrow,” the petition read.
“We heard a lot of people saying they were getting sick and throwing up because of the smoke, so we decided to write to do something,” Chan said.
Chan and Javary said that precisely 207 students signed the petition. While it is unclear if the petition was delivered to the district office after the decision to close schools was made, the number of signatories shows how many students agree with the district’s decision to cancel class.
Photo courtesy of Richard Hedman.