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Santa Clara Unified Shares Decision to Keep Schools Open Amid Air Quality Concerns

Most Santa Clara County schools choose to stay open while South Bay air quality worsens.

In a statement this morning, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan and Santa Clara Unified School District Superintendent Stan Rose, informed the public that schools in Santa Clara County are not closing though air quality conditions have reached unhealthy, almost very unhealthy, levels.

“The safety and security of our students is of the utmost importance,” their statement said, “and it is our desire that students throughout the county have a safe place and refuge from the current air quality. Students are safer and better served indoors within our schools, childcare homes and centers, and preschools.”

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“At this time, schools in Santa Clara County are not closing,” the statement continued. “The [Santa Clara County Office of Education] is providing this guidance after consultation with Santa Clara County School Districts, and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.”

Instead, schools are relocating outdoor activities indoors or canceling them altogether. The local high schools’ sports games have also been relocated to Monterey County, Santa Cruz County and Salinas where the air quality is heathier.

People have taken to district’s Facebook page to air their concerns.

“This must stop! I don’t know if the decision to stay open is money related, but I do know it’s absolutely not in our children’s best interests. Mission College is shut down and mid-terms rescheduled. Somehow our elementary school children are safer and more responsible than adults? My daughter’s school is even having a ‘Coding Showcase’ event,” says Andrew.

“SCUSD, don’t make us parents choose between our child’s education or their health. Close the school. And get started on a district policy of an AQI threshold to be ready for this next year,” says Caron.

The Superintendents’ statement did address some of these concerns.

“If parents disagree with their district’s decision, they may choose to keep their children at home,” the statement said. “Ultimately, parents know what is best for their child based on his or her health needs.”

In a press conference today, Dewan also addressed some concerns.

“We are aware that many local colleges, universities and private schools have elected to close their doors,” said Dewan. She also said that other schools and districts in the county have closed, but others will continue to stay open.

“We have received several telephone calls from concerned parents who believe that we’re keeping school doors open due to funding purposes,” said Dewan. “I want to assure our community that decisions to stay open were made without regard to funding.”

Dewan assured that students’ absences due to the air quality, if reported correctly per usual means, will be excused.

Dewan said that they will continue to monitor the situation and advise parents to follow medical guidelines first.

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