A special air quality statement is in effect in the Greater Toronto Area due to high levels of pollution due to smoke from forest fires in Quebec and northeastern Ontario.
Environment Canada says poor air quality could persist throughout most of the week.
As a result, school boards in the GTA have made adjustments to their outdoor activities. Here’s what you need to know.
TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (TDSB)
The TDSB says after reviewing the Air Quality Health Index and advice from Environment Canada and Toronto Public Health, all strenuous outdoor activities planned for Wednesday and Thursday will be rescheduled or moved indoors.
Outdoor recess will continue and students are encouraged to avoid any demanding activity. Schools should also attempt to accommodate students who wish to stay inside or experiencing symptoms such as coughing or throat irritation if supervision levels allow.
“While many are already in use, TDSB schools will also ensure that HEPA air filters are continuing to be used – especially during this time of poor air quality,” the board said.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and should any additional steps need to be taken on the advice of Environment Canada and/or Toronto Public Health, we will provide additional information to families.”
TORONTO CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (TCDSB)
The TCDSB says it is recommending to schools that they may wish to consider indoor recess and reschedule any outdoor activities if students and staff have respiratory conditions.
“We also reminded schools that using classroom HEPA Air Purifiers is helpful in further reducing smoke particulates indoors,” the board said, noting that their decisions are based on the criteria outlined by the Ministry of Education.
“We will continue to monitor the air quality health index in all our communities and consult with local public health partners and respond accordingly based on the conditions.”
YORK REGION DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (YRDSB)
The YRDSB says schools will have indoor recesses beginning on Wednesday, and any planned outdoor activities will be rescheduled or modified to be held indoors.
The board added that it is optimizing air quality in schools through improved air filtration.
“The health and safety of our students and staff is our priority,” YRDSB said.
“As always, we will continue to follow the advice of Environment Canada and York Region Public Health. As the situation evolves, we will continue to provide families with information.”
YORK CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (YCDSB)
The YCDSB has also decided to hold recesses indoors on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the board says field trips and other off-school excursions will be able to proceed for families who would like to participate, given it would be incredibly difficult for schools to reschedule those activities at this point in the year.
PEEL DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (PDSB)
The PDSB released a statement on the air quality situation, but it did not include any plans to postpone outdoor activities or move recesses indoors.
“For the next few days, we encourage students to monitor how they are feeling for symptoms. The health impacts associated with poor air quality may be felt several days after the poor air quality event,” the board said.
DUFFERIN-PEEL CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (DPCDSB)
The DPCDSB says it will monitor the situation and decide Wednesday morning on whether or not to cancel outdoor recess.
“Field trips and other events and activities may proceed given the difficulty of rescheduling those activities at this point in the year. Parents/Guardians will make their own decisions on whether or not they wish their child to participate,” the board said.
DURHAM DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (DDSB)
The DDSB says recess and lunch hour activities can proceed as normal, however, students and staff with health conditions may need to remain indoors.
Where possible, the board says schools may reduce or reschedule heavy outdoor activities to the gymnasium.
DURHAM CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (DCDSB)
HALTON DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (HDSB)
HALTON CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (HCDSB)