Diary: Grappling With Frequent School Closures Due To Poor Air Quality

Sep 19, 2020

Washoe County Schools have been in session for about a month, but for 10 of those class days, schools have been closed and they switched to remote learning, due to poor air quality from fires blazing in California. Local high school student Isabella Wolf recorded an audio diary for KUNR's Youth Media program to share how she’s been feeling about the frequent closures.

I haven't been to school in, like, a week, but it's funny because it's not for the reasons you think. We can't go outside, but not because we might get sick, but because it's not even safe to breathe. It's weird not being able to see the mountains behind my house.

People in the rest of the world are like, “Now California's on fire,” but they don't realize that this is something we deal with every year. It's definitely been really bad before, but I don't think they've canceled school as often as they have this year. When I was little, it was just, “Oh, it's too smoky outside; we're having indoor recess,” but now it's like, “No, you're just not going to go to school.” It's been a little bit nice to be at home, but it's definitely been weird with all the smoke.

I remember the first day got canceled, and then we were able to have the rest of the week, but since then, it's been on and off, and on and off. There are days where it'll literally be flawless, perfect outside, clear skies and everything's sunny — and then the wind shifts. It's been really crazy, like, our state is literally just surrounded by fires right now.

It's kind of funny; we've started adjusting to COVID-19 and now we're trying to work with the other problems, which are the fires. Tomorrow, I'll either be going to school, or I won't. It's weird to think that it won't be because somebody is going to get me sick. It'll be because of the smoke. It's just a lot to think about.

KUNR's Youth Media program is a special partnership with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists.