s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

Although the Butte County fire was more than 100 miles away, it brought smoke into Sonoma County on Thursday, forcing some campuses to cancel classes and sporting events.

Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University suspended classes Thursday and announced later that day they would close their campuses Friday.

The Forestville school district also said its campuses will close Friday. Meanwhile, other school districts said they planned to monitor the air quality and evaluate activities.

The Camp fire forced schools throughout the county Thursday to hold recess and lunch breaks indoors. School officials also had to comfort students who know the perils of wildfires all too well.

The smoky air stirred anxiety at Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School and Rincon Valley Middle School, principal Ed Navarro said. The schools share a Badger Road campus, where 126 of about 1,000 students lost homes in last year’s wildfires.

Navarro said eight to 10 students left campus early Thursday due to asthma, headaches or fear. One staff member who lost a home in the fires grew anxious and left, too.

“It kind of caught them off guard to see the smoke come over the hills,” Navarro said. “The reflection of the sun in the smoke gave an orange haze reminiscent of what they saw last year. I think that in itself was troubling.”

Students ate lunch outdoors, but as air quality worsened, lunchtime intramural basketball and an after-school running club were canceled, Navarro said. Announcements were made to students explaining the smoky air, and Navarro encouraged questions and open dialogue about it with staff and students.

As Navarro drove from Bennett Valley to Rincon Valley during his morning commute, he noticed the atmosphere — geographically and mentally — felt different.

“We’re very much in a microclimate right here,” he said. “The energy of the wind, anxiety and fear, it was palpable.”

Parents were notified of an air quality watch, Navarro said.

Steve Mizera, the Santa Rosa school district’s assistant superintendent of student and family services, sent guidelines to principals on how to react depending on air quality levels.

“We used it last year,” Mizera said about the chart. “Schools are reacting differently.”

District officials said Thursday afternoon they planned to open schools Friday.

At Schaefer Charter School, where 133 students lost their homes in the Tubbs fire, leaves swirled as the wind picked up Thursday during a 10 a.m. snack recess. Students noticed the smoke about an hour later, Principal Kathy Harris said.

“We can’t even see the hills,” Harris said in the afternoon.

Some students expressed fear, she said, particularly the older ones who remembered the winds that carried last year’s fires and devastated the surrounding Coffey Park neighborhood. Harris pointed out Butte County on a map to sixth-graders, reassuring them it was three hours away.

“They just wanted the information,” Harris said. “Just to talk about it calms them.”

Students in the Mark West Union School District had lunch and recess indoors, too, and parents were notified.

“We’ll continue to keep students indoors as we monitor air quality,” Superintendent Ron Calloway said.

After-school sporting events were canceled across the Cotati-Rohnert Park district, Assistant Superintendent Julie Synyard said. Students also were kept indoors.

Synyard said schools have good air filtration systems. Schools were expected to remain open Friday.

If school were canceled, “it would be a team decision working with the county office,” Synyard said.

You can reach Staff Writer Susan Minichiello at 707-521-5216 or susan.minichiello@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @susanmini.

Show Comment