School officials are carefully monitoring Long Island's air quality, due to improve by the weekend, in deciding whether to reopen or relocate activities inside Friday.
Long Beach and Freeport schools announced they would reopen Friday, but still limit outdoor events, and several other districts on Long Island continued to hold events indoors Thursday, planning to reassess come Friday.
“Most schools have been open because indoor air quality is fine, but the vast majority have limited outdoor activities,” James Polansky, president of the Suffolk County Superintendents Association, said Thursday.
New York City schools said students in certain grades and schools will switch to remote learning Friday, due to the poor air quality, while others were taking it off anyway for staff development.
The National Weather Service issued an air quality alert through Friday at midnight, as a stalled weather pattern kept steering thick smoke from Canadian wildfires to the Northeast this week. Smoke conditions were predicted to improve somewhat Friday in the region and into the weekend but health officials still cautioned that outdoor activity should be limited, especially for sensitive groups such as people with asthma or heart and lung conditions.
Districts holding events inside Thursday included Huntington, Babylon, Middle Country Central, Glen Cove, Valley Stream District 13 and Central High School District. The Patchogue-Medford School District continued outdoor restrictions and postponed field trips, asking schools to keep windows closed to keep smoke and poor air out of buildings.
Polansky, who also serves as superintendent for the Huntington school district, said he has moved that district's field days until next week, and had not canceled other events that can be moved inside. He said the district's athletic seasons are mostly over and prom is scheduled for next week.
“It looks like the air quality will slightly improve tomorrow,” he said Thursday. "Fortunately for us, we didn’t have a lot of special type of events scheduled for the next few days.”
Long Beach Superintendent Jennifer Gallagher had said Wednesday that she closed schools Thursday because "There were many, many uncomfortable children in our schools today and we believe they will be safer tomorrow under the care of their families."
Meanwhile, Malverne High School decided to hold its pre-prom celebration outside Thursday evening, saying: "We understand the significance of this event and the excitement surrounding it, and we believe that conducting it in an outdoor setting will provide a safe and enjoyable experience for our students. We have carefully assessed the air quality conditions, and based on the current projections, we are confident that it will be suitable for an outdoor gathering."
All high school Spring State Championships are moving forward as scheduled for the weekend, Robert Zayas, director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association said Thursday.
Molloy College, which canceled classes Thursday, said it will reopen Friday. Hofstra has already ended its spring semester and planned to remain open, but was closely monitoring air quality, officials said, as was Stony Brook University.