Break in smoke prompted brief recess on Thursday |

Break in smoke prompted brief recess on Thursday

Meneley Elementary students enjoy bounce houses arranged for by their principal on Friday so they could have recess indoors.
Amy Roby |

A brief break in the smoke on Thursday morning prompted the first recess in more than a week at Douglas County elementary schools.

Superintendent Lisa Noonan said she authorized the recess based on a chart developed by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association indicating that an air quality index of 100-150 permitted recess for children who didn’t have asthma or other respiratory problems.

“We were following the guidelines the NIAA established to help guide principals for PE, recess and anything that happens outside.”

An index number of 151 or higher requires children to be kept inside.

She said that she thought the wind that cleared the smoke for a short time would continue to help clear it out, but like many Carson Valley residents, she was disappointed to see the smoke return.

“I thought the winds were going to help us,” she said.

Noonan said she got a call from a parent on Thursday about the recess.

“That was the first time we got down to the orange range, and I said to the principals that could be when you let the little guys outside,” she said.

Noonan posted a letter on the school district’s website and a copy should be coming home with students.

Air quality in the Gardnerville Ranchos, which is where the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection has a monitor, improved slightly this morning, but not by a lot. Overnight the index hit 245 in the very unhealthy range. By 9 a.m. it was down to 180, still too smoky for recess.

Meneley Principal Becky Rugger arranged for a bounce house at her school on Friday for children to use indoors for recess.

With school out for three days for the Labor Day holiday, there’s some hope that the smoke could clear by the time it’s back in session.

The National Weather Service dense smoke advisory expires at 8 p.m., but forecasters say winds will probably keep bringing smoke into Western Nevada through Labor Day.

The Rim fire was up past 201,894 acres this morning, growing more than 9,100 acres since Thursday.

More than 4,900 firefighters have a line 32 percent around the fire, but officials have delayed their expectation for having the fire contained until Sept. 20.

The fire continues to actively burn brush, oak and pine through the night, torching and crowning as it spreads through the dense forest west of Yosemite National Park. The fire was observed burning from ridgetops downslope. Rugged terrain is preventing them from making much progress.