COVID-19 Info Centre

Air quality advisory: limited closures, some schools remain open

As you are no doubt aware, our region currently has an air quality advisory due to wildfire smoke from active fires in Washington and Oregon. Our school district has been closely monitoring the situation, and is consulting with the Ministry of Education and our public health experts to ensure that our schools continue to be safe environments for our staff and students.

Additionally, there is currently a substantial fire at New Westminster Pier Park that is adding to and presenting new challenges.

Given the additional impact that the New Westminster Pier Park fire is having on already challenged air quality, out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending regular classes at schools within a proximity of the fire. Staff will be on site, but we’re advising families to stay home and inside and asking parents not to drop or send their kids to the following schools today.

Affected schools that had suspended classes this morning include: Queen Elizabeth Elementary, Queensborough Middle School, Qayqayt Elementary, Royal City Alternate Program (RCAP)/POWER.

Due to the changing situation with air quality and to a shift in the winds, Fraser River Middle School and New Westminster Secondary School have both been dismissed early … with students who can, encouraged to safely make their way home. 

For parents that need to drop their children off today (or those who cannot pick them up), there will be staff supervision that will maintain the learning group integrity.

All children at each one of our schools will remain indoors, all day.

If parents at one of our other schools wish to pick their child up early, they are free to so.

At the advice of our local Medical Health Officer, at schools that are open, they will limit smoke exposure for staff and students by:

  • Allowing students who are sensitive to the smoke to remain indoors during lunch/breaks; (In light of the fire in New Westminster, the School District extended this midday to require that all students stay inside, all day today.)
  • Closing exterior doors and windows and utilizing filtered ventilation systems;
  • Rescheduling and restricting outdoor activities, particularly strenuous activities like PE;
  • Closely monitor students with asthma or other breathing conditions.

All of our schools will continue implementing COVID-19 infection control practices, including maintaining health checks, regular handwashing, remaining in assigned learning groups/cohorts and physical distancing.