Smoky Air

KCBS Radio/Matt Bigler

Smoked Out

Schools Closed, Events Canceled, And Mass Transit Is Free As Air Quality Remains Poor

Matt Bigler
November 16, 2018 - 10:36 am

Plenty of Bay Area parents woke up Friday morning to find out their kids would be taking a "smoke day" as the fire in Butte County continued to taint local skies. 

Dozens of school districts, colleges and universities around the Bay canceled classes because of air quality that monitor say is "unhealthy" or worse.  

Still, a San Leandro elementary school principal sent an optimistic message to parents.

"The past week has been difficult for many families," said Washington Elementary Principal Lisa Alvarez. "But the silver lining has been seeing the love and support our students, staff and families show towards one another." 

Sporting events across the region were postponed and canceled as well. Even indoor sports events are being closely scrutinized.

Forget about outdoor games. The North Coast Football Playoffs have been rescheduled three times so far. "My football team is scheduled to play tomorrow, but the chances of getting that in are slim to none, given the air quality just this morning and the prediction for tomorrow," said Kevin Gorhman, the athletic director at Alameda's Encinal High School before officials indeed postponed the game again. 

Some mass transit systems offered free rides on Friday to reduce additional pollution from cars and trucks. 

San Francisco MUNI, the Valley Transit Authority and SamTrans let passengers on board without paying.

"That's great," said Tyler Robinette, a MUNI bus rider, on Friday morning. "If something's free sometimes, people are more inclined to take it, and it might help them out." 

Air travel is another story. There were nearly 500 delayed flights at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday, plus 31 cancellations. Oakland International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport, however, had not been affected by the thick blanket of smoke. 

In her message to parents about Friday's canceled school day, the Principal of San Leandro's Washington Elementary chose to look on the bright side.

Written by Diana Shook.