Air Quality Protocol

  • COVID-19 Protocol 

    During COVID-19, if and when we have poor air quality of air quality index (AQI) of 151 or above as determined by AirNow, we will follow the air quality guidelines to move all activities indoors as much as possible, even as they conflict with COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Even when doors and windows are closed, HVAC systems will continue to bring in fresh air with MERV 13 filters, a high efficiency air filter that effectively removes fine particle pollution such as smoke (see:

    Check this site frequently as guidelines will be updated as needed. During COVID-19, masks will continue to be worn and physical distancing will be implemented to the extent possible. 

    General Protocol

    • We monitor the air quality daily using Air Now. Hour-by-hour AQI data is also available from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. 
    • SCUSD issues districtwide messages when the current or forecasted air quality is an AQI of 151 or more, in the "Unhealthy" (red) category or above, according to Air Now.
      • The district uses Gmail for staff communication, ParentSquare for family communication, and posts new messages on our website homepage.
    • The Air Quality Guidelines for Schools from the CDE provide guidance on actions to take for each of the air quality index categories.
      • Level 1 = Good (0-50 AQI)
      • Level 2 = Moderate (51-100 AQI)
      • Level 3 = Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (101-150 AQI)
      • Level 4 = Unhealthy (151-200 AQI)
      • Level 5 = Very Unhealthy (201-300 AQI)

    When AQI is 151 or above:

    • All exterior doors and windows are closed
    • All activities, including lunch, will be moved indoors as much as possible
    • All outdoor athletic conditioning practices are suspended immediately
    • Outdoor staff are given indoor work or frequent breaks

    Monitoring "Sensitive Groups"

    • SCUSD refers to the state and local air quality guidelines for schools to inform our decisions for caring for students who have asthma and/or other respiratory health concerns.
    • As always, our staff will prioritize student health needs and follow student health plans. If your child has asthma and/or other related health concerns, please make sure their health plan is updated to include responses during days with poor air quality and that the necessary medications and the requisite directions are provided to the school.

    Steps Families Can Take to Support Their Child

    Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about air quality concerns. Being in conversation with your child and referring to facts helps reduce confusion. Other steps parents can take include:

    • If your child has asthma or related health concern, please refer to the above “sensitive groups” section.
    • Remind children to drink plenty of water.
    • Remind students to report symptoms including coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness. If symptoms occur, your child might need to take a break, do a less intense activity, stop all activity, go indoors, or use quick-relief medicine as prescribed. If symptoms don't improve, consult your physician.
    • Rather than walking or biking to school, children should be transported via public or private transportation.
    • If you wish to keep your child home, you have the ability to do so. It is important that parent/guardian concerns for students with sensitivities are addressed via advice from a licensed medical provider. Absences due to a medical reason will follow guidelines for an excused absence. You must contact your child's office to report any absence and students will be responsible for making up the work they miss.

    Closing Schools Due to Air Quality

    Our school district will rely on the direction of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) to determine the need for school closure. Should these organizations recommend closure, SCUSD will close schools. While no universal Air Quality Index (AQI) measure exists above which schools should close, SCCPHD is clear that students are safer supervised at school than at home, potentially unsupervised. SCUSD will not rely on the closure of other area school districts, even those closest to ours, to determine the need to close schools.


    Site administrators are ready and available to answer any questions regarding air quality, school protocols, and safety. Your first step should be an email to your school site administration. For general questions, you may contact