Berkeley City College, Berkeley school district cancel classes in light of poor air quality

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Update 11/15/2018: UC Berkeley announced Thursday evening that classes will be canceled Nov. 16 because of the poor air quality. Read the full story here.

While classes at UC Berkeley remain in session, Berkeley City College and the Berkeley Unified School District have canceled classes because of the poor air quality.

Berkeley City College announced on its website Thursday that its campus was closed “effective immediately due to unhealthy air quality.” All day and evening classes are canceled, the college stated, but classes will resume Nov. 16 unless stated otherwise, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

The Berkeley Unified School District also announced in an email late Thursday afternoon that all schools and departments within the district will be closed Nov. 16. The district added in the email that the Alameda County Superintendents Council “made the difficult joint decision” to close all schools in Alameda County on Nov. 16.

While classes were in session for the school district Thursday, the district said it was limiting student activities to reduce outdoor exposure and limit physical exertion. All outdoor athletic practices and events have been canceled until the air quality improves.

Several California universities — including UC Davis, Sacramento State and UC Merced — have canceled classes because of the poor air quality.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, meanwhile, announced in an email Wednesday evening that classes will continue as scheduled. She said in her email that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, or BAAQMD, indicates that the air quality index, or AQI, in Berkeley remains below 200 — the level at which campus class cancellation should be considered.

According to BAAQMD, however, the AQI reached 246 about 2 p.m. Thursday.

The poor air quality is caused by the Camp Fire, which started last Thursday in Butte County and has since become the most destructive California wildfire in the state’s history.

“Everyone with respiratory or cardiac issues should avoid any outdoor activity,” the city of Berkeley tweeted Thursday afternoon, once the AQI reached 215 about 1 p.m. “Everyone else, especially children, should *limit* outdoor activity.”

Chantelle Lee is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.