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Air Quality and School Recess

Winter is temperature inversion season in the Salt Lake Valley. Accordingly, the Salt Lake City School District Board of Education recognizes the effects of poor air quality on students’ health and therefore requires that SLCSD schools follow the Utah Department of Health’s Recess Guidance for Schools.

The guidance aligns with federal Air Quality Index (AQI) recommendations and links indoor recess recommendations to PM2.5 levels, which is the air pollutant of main concern during winter months. The guidance also takes into account students with respiratory symptoms or pre-existing respiratory conditions, who may be more sensitive to poor air quality.

Schools check the air quality each day, often several times a day, and make decisions based on that information.Parents, with the advice of their health care provider, must inform the school secretary or school nurse, if their child is sensitive to poor air quality, and therefore should have limited outdoor physical education when the air quality is poor.

The following categories provide guidelines for when outdoor physical activity is appropriate based on the air quality. Principals, or their designees, in their sole discretion may restrict outdoor physical activity at even lower PM2.5 levels.

  1. When the PM2.5 level is between 35.5 – 55.4 ug/m3, sensitive students and students with respiratory symptoms should remain indoors for recess and PE classes.
  2. When the PM2.5 level is above 55.5 ug/m3, all students should remain indoors for recess and PE classes.


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