SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You can find smoke in the air almost everywhere in South Dakota, and with all of the smoke, comes extra challenges for local schools.
From recess to after-school activities and practices, administrators are making daily decisions to keep students safe on these hazy days.
“We’ve never really had to experience this before. This is something that’s unprecedented, so we don’t have a specific policy level,” Hartford Elementary Principal Ashley Bahrenfuss said.
The playground at Hartford Elementary School was empty when we stopped by, but students are still using it for recess.
“If the air quality were to be at an extent where it was dangerous for our kids to be out, we would obviously keep them inside and have inside recess, practices, such as in the gym, or classroom, or movies, those types of things, but we try to keep them out as much as possible,” Bahrenfuss said.
However at West Central High School, where some teams practice outside, it’s more of a concern.
“It’s not just kids with asthma; any kid can start demonstrating symptoms,” West Central Athletic Director Andrea Johnson said.
Because of the poor air quality, West Central is adjusting the length and scheduling of practices.
“We’ve done things like morning practices because the air quality is a little bit better in the morning, so we’ve done that. Those shorter breaks, shorter bursts of more intense activities, you know they may go 20 minutes on and then take a ten minute breather,” Johnson said.
Johnson says West Central’s coaches are trained to watch for symptoms, in case athletes start exhibiting signs they are unwell.
“Our number one job is to keep our kids safe, and coaches just always have to keep an eye on them,” Johnson said.