Magic Valley schools adjust to worsening air quality levels

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JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - We've been dealing with a smoky sky for quite some time now and it's only getting worse.

"Yesterday (Monday) morning I looked up (the air quality) and didn't even consider it in the afternoon or evening. It felt pretty good," said Sid Gambles, the Jerome High School football coach. "Usually, I'm sensitive to that so I felt it was okay last night but definitely a different feel today (Tuesday)."

Fires across the northwest in northern Idaho, Washington and Oregon continues to spread smoke in southern Idaho, prompting school officials to keep a close eye on the latest air quality.

"Once the air quality hits 150, we don't let our activities go outside or physical education classes go outside," explained Jeremy Munroe, Jerome High's assistant principal and athletic director. "(A class period this morning) were outside for about 15 minutes. Then, we realized the air quality was getting worse. We try to keep them inside as much as possible today."

The Department of Environmental Quality also issued an air quality advisory statewide that will persist through Thursday morning when conditions will be re-evaluated county by county.

As far as practice goes for the Jerome High foot ball team, Coach Gambles said practice outside was a go as of the early afternoon.

In the event the air quality worsens to the unhealthy range by practice time, they have back-up plans to keep practice going.

"We would go into my classrooms and different classrooms and watch film. There's other ways to get after them. We just feel like I need to get some cardio in them today, so I'm a little concerned about that part," explained Coach Gambles. "A session in the weight room would probably be our alternative or something in the gym (since the volleyball team is out of town)."

Overall, they limited outdoor activity Tuesday and notified their student to take extra care when going outside.

"If they're going to be outside, we just want them to monitor it and see how they feel," said Munroe. "If they start to feel any symptoms, headaches, hard time breathing, to notify us immediately."

Under the advisory, all open burning is prohibited. This includes campfires, weed control burning and residential burning.

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