Schools cancel outdoor activities, county parks close, and events postponed due to air quality

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As the air quality health advisory continues into Wednesday, some local school districts have canceled outdoor activities, county parks and golf courses have closed, and some events have been postponed.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation issued the alert for Western New York because of the smoke from the wildfires in Quebec, Canada.

People with heart or lung disease, along with older and younger people, should avoid all outdoor activities. Everyone else should shorten outdoor activities or postpone them until air quality is better. Here’s how the community is adjusting its plans:

Outdoor activities for schools:

Rochester (RCSD): Due to poor air quality conditions, we have decided to cancel all outside activities, including outdoor physical education classes, until further notice.

Pittsford: We are planning to keep all school activities indoors, barring any unforeseen changes in wind pattern/air quality. Please plan for recess and physical education classes to be held indoors. Should air quality worsen, we will consider canceling outdoor field trips.

Brighton: Due to ongoing air quality concerns, physical education classes and recess will again be held indoors. The kindergarten walking field trip will take place as scheduled and other outdoor activities that do not involve strenuous activity will remain in place.

Gates-Chili: The district is holding physical education classes and recess indoors. In addition, all outdoor athletic activities have been moved indoors. Community members are strongly encouraged not to use the district’s outdoor facilities at this time.

Greece: We have decided to cancel outdoor activities and field trips scheduled. Anything planned for indoors will continue as scheduled.

County facilities

Monroe County announced that it will close all county parks, golf courses, and the Seneca Park Zoo because of the air quality.

All county employees who typically work outdoors have been reassigned to indoor tasks. Crews from the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services will respond to outdoor emergency situations only. In addition, Seneca Park Zoo staff will bring as many of the animals indoors. The Monroe County Department of Public Health will continue to monitor the air quality.

Other activities

  • The Midday Bash at Parcel 5 will be rescheduled to a later date.
  • The first Concert by the Shore of the season, planned for Wednesday night, will be rescheduled to a later date.
  • Spencerport Volunteer Firemen’s Association cancels Wednesday carnival events

AirNow, an air quality monitoring system run by several government agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, shows Rochester’s air as unhealthy with a red very unhealthy ranking for particulate matter 2.5. Those are particles so fine that they can travel deep in the respiratory tract.

People should move indoors or call a medical professional if they experience coughing or difficulty breathing. The Monroe County Department of Public Health recommends wearing an N95 or KN95 mask outside to make breathing easier.

In addition, the Humane Society at Lollypop says pets’ outside time should be limited. Pet owners should watch for coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, or watery eyes.

Models from the News10NBC First Alert Weather Team show that Wednesday’s air quality will likely be worse than Tuesday’s. The smell of smoke is so strong because the high atmospheric pressure is stopping the smoke from rising, instead trapping it between layers of warm and cool air. Visibility is expected to worsen throughout the day.

Northernly winds have carried smoke and particulate matter from wildfires around Quebec, Canada hundreds of miles away to Rochester. Canada is experiencing one of its worst wildfire seasons ever. More than 160 fires have been reported in Quebec including at least 114 that were still out of control on Tuesday. The fires have forced about 10,000 people from their homes in Quebec.