INVERSION: How bad air quality affects Utah’s school-aged children

Local News

UTAH (ABC4) -As we continue to settle into a new year, a nasty valley inversion with poor air quality is also settling into portions of the state.

According to our ABC4 Pinpoint Weather Team, portions of northern Utah will experience unhealthy air quality by mid-week, as COVID-19 continues to plague Utah’s communities.

But in hopes in achieving cleaner air, Executive Director at UCAIR, Kim Frost says, “when we go outside, that’s our escape from having to mask.”

And that’s just another reason officials at UCAIR say it’s vital to keep Utah’s air clean

And when it isn’t, educators say it can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being, especially in kids.
Rose Kjesbo, an Elementary School teacher in the Salt Lake City School District says, “I have seen how teaching is affected by air quality.”

Kjesbo tells ABC4 News that when her students aren’t able to take outdoor recess with structured play and exercise.

They’re less effective in learning the needed curriculum.

However, she says there are ways to keep students engaged keeping students active, especially on days where air quality may be extremely harmful to have students outdoors.

“When we have a red air day, we call an indoor recess day where students play games or dance or do yoga” says Kjesbo.

She says on consecutive red air days, teachers will have students line up in the hallways for a walk to get some sort of exercise. 

She says the benefits of having clean air for students not only gets their bodies moving but the brain break helps students come back to class fully charged and focused.

Kjesbo adds that “it’s been shown in so many studies that is so important for young kids brain development.”

Whether it’s recess on school playground, skiing in the mountains or bike riding, officials at UCAIR say they want all Utahns to be connected to outdoors and simple things like refraining from idling in your vehicle, taking public transit or simply skipping the trip can help reduce dirty air so we can all “live to breathe” and most of all enjoy fresh clean air.

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