Air Pollution results in closure of Pacific Campuses

The deadliest and most destructive fire in California history wreaked havoc in Butte County for a total of 17 days this month, leaving devastation in its wake. Though the Camp Fire was relatively further away from Stockton, residents could feel the impact from miles away.

The week prior to Pacific’s Thanksgiving break, air pollution was at a high in the city of Stockton. At the beginning of the week, air quality was borderline “unhealthy” according to AirNow. Classes were still in session Monday through Wednesday, as administration sent out emails telling students that if they “are unable to attend class today, please contact your faculty member or instructor and let them know. Faculty will accommodate students who are absent because of health concerns due to air quality.”

In the meantime, free N95 particulate respirator masks were available in Student Health Services and at the DeRosa University Center. Still, many students complained of health problems as they didn’t want to jeopardize academics by missing class.

“Instead of being worried about my health like I should be, I’m terrified of what my professor will think if I miss two classes in one week,” said Delainey Willing, English and Communications ‘19, via Twitter.

Additionally, many students were not used to having to wear the respirator mask while they were walking to class. Furthermore, the UC would wind up running out of masks to give out before the day was over.

“I kept forgetting my mask because I wasn’t use to wearing it. But it would be very difficult to breathe without it because the smoke was pretty bad,” said Anuelle Jumuad, Pre-Pharmacy ‘20.

By Wednesday, November 14th, air quality index numbers in Sacramento reached above 200, which is the “very unhealthy” range. This prompted administration to close Pacific’s Sacramento campus, while the Stockton and San Francisco campuses remained open.

It was not until the following Thursday, when air quality index numbers within the San Joaquin Valley reached “very unhealthy,” that administration released an email announcing the closure of the Stockton campus for the rest of the week. The closure meant that all classes, events, work, and activities were to be canceled for the week.

The air quality only worsened from then on, reaching into the “hazardous” range by Friday afternoon. The worsening air quality resulted in campus being closed all the way until the beginning of Thanksgiving break.

The closing of campus resulted in all events planned for the weekend being canceled and moved until after Thanksgiving break, meanwhile, many students were able to travel home extra early for the holiday.

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Natalia Gevara

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