Return to Headlines

Air Quality Protocol

Dear Sunnyvale School District community, 

The 2022 wildfire season is upon us, one we are all too familiar within our state and area. The impact of fires, smoke, and/or poor air quality is varied and complex. Whether at home, at school, or at work, we cannot stress enough that the time to prepare is now. To assist our community as we navigate the impact resulting from poor air quality, including wildfire smoke that can be felt hundreds of miles from its origin, we would like to offer the following tips and resources to help you during current and future outages.

SSD refers to, and follows, the guidelines in the School Air Quality Activity Recommendations, which were created by the California Department of Education in partnership with the California Air Resources Board, California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, Association of California School Administrators, and California School Boards Association. 

When the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange), unhealthy (red), or higher (purple and maroon), district staff check these websites as well as consult with surrounding districts and the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Decisions will be made based on steps to minimize the risk for students and staff, and how to communicate corresponding information to the community.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) are clear that there exists no established number that would indicate the need to close schools. Our goal has been to keep schools open even during power shut-offs and poor air quality days. While no universal Air Quality Index (AQI) measure exists above which schools should close, SCCPHD is clear that students are safer supervised at school than at home, potentially unsupervised. SSD will not rely on the closure of other area school districts, even those closest to ours, to determine the need to close schools.

We will, however, adjust outdoor activities accordingly, such as: 

  • Moving recess and/or lunch indoors
  • Moving physical education (P.E.) indoors
  • Canceling after school outdoor activities/sports

We will continue to enforce COVID protocols by wearing masks indoors and modifying activities to reduce risk.

To determine local air quality, district staff monitor several websites, including:

General information can also be found on the Santa Clara County Office of Education emergency advisory webpage.

When AQI is in the orange tier or higher, these tips are useful to protect against smoke and COVID-19:  

  • Stay at home as much as possible with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside.
  • Limit trips outside while air quality remains unhealthy.  
  • Continue to wear a face-covering to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.  
  • Minimize the amount of time you are active outdoors.   
  • Set car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside.  

⁣⁣If you have additional questions or need additional information, please contact your school site administrator. 


Michael Gallagher, Ed.D.