Lower Mainland schools reopen after day of closures due to smoke
Officials are warning about "highly toxic" smoke coming from a fire at New Westminster's waterfront park that burned overnight on Sept. 13, 2020.
VANCOUVER -- Several New Westminster schools resumed classes Tuesday after suspending them due to smoke.
Qayqayt Elementary, Queen Elizabeth Elementary and Queensborough Middle School all cancelled class because of their close proximity to toxic smoke coming from a massive fire that burned along the city's waterfront park.
Later in the day, Ecole Glenbrook, Fraser River Middle School and New Westminster Secondary School, ended their classes early.
But on Tuesday, New Westminster's school district announced all schools would be open.
"With both the air quality and particulate matter indexes improving, and under consultation with Fraser Health, all our schools in New Westminster will be reopening today," a notice on the school district's website says.
The district says it's still taking some extra precautions, like keeping windows and doors shut and using filtered ventilation systems. Some activities will be rescheduled, like physical education, and students are advised to stay inside during breaks.
Other B.C. school districts said they're taking similar precautions because of the smoke coming from wildfires in Washington state.
While some B.C. teachers called for a "smoke day," Dr. Bonnie Henry said during her COVID-19 briefing Monday that students may in fact be better off in schools during the air quality advisory because they often have better ventilation systems.
Environment Canada's air quality advisory is still in place. While there's expected to be a slight improvement Tuesday, ground-level smoke is forecast to stay later into the week.