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Criteria for Closing Schools Due to Air Quality

Criteria for Closing Schools Due to Air Quality

The Oxnard Union High School District has the safety of students and staff as its top priority.  The following are the three (3) criteria we use to determine whether or not we will close school due to unhealthful air quality.

Criterion 1:  Air Quality

Ventura County Air Quality Index is used to determine air quality: (www.airnow.gov )

  • If AQI forecast for the following day is Good to Moderate (based on numbers to the right) we will open
  • If AQI forecast for the following day is Unhealthy for Special Groups to Hazardous (based on numbers to the right), we will close

Note:  We continue to check the forecasts, working closely with our county air quality district, up until 5:00 p.m. to give us time to notify parents by 6:00 p.m. for the following school day.

Criterion 2:  Site Cleanliness (Ash or Toxic Particles)

We partner with the VCEPA (Ventura County Environmental Protection Agency) and environmental specialists to inspect and test the surfaces and air particle content at each site to determine the need to abate any toxic elements from our schools.  If the tests come back at unhealthy levels, we bring in specialists to clean and restore the schools, including using “air scrubbers”, which are large air filters. The process of cleaning a site may take from 1-3 days. This would cause us to keep schools closed until abatement.  

Criterion 3:  Staffing

During local natural disasters, like the Thomas, Hill and Woolsey fires, many staff are personally impacted by evacuation, the loss of homes, dislocation or inability to get to work due to road closures.  We carefully monitor staffing levels and available substitutes for each site to ensure we are able to provide safe and effective supervision and instruction for our students. Should so many staff be displaced or unable to work that we cannot safety hold school, we would make a decision to close for the following day.

Inclement Weather Protocol:

By law, once the school day has begun, we are prohibited from releasing minors, except to a parent or guardian as verified by I.D.  At a large, comprehensive high school this is an hours-long process, with all staff on-duty, supervising students and assisting with the effort.  Should there be an un-forecasted change in air quality after school is in session, we will follow Inclement Weather Protocol, which is to keep students inside, and limit physical activities, including extra-curricular activities.  Face masks are made available to all staff and students.