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Campus Air Quality Information

September 12, 2022

FLC Campus Alert graphic

The following email was sent to all Folsom Lake College students and employees on Sunday, September 11, 2022 at 4:00 pm:

Dear Falcons,

Fire season is upon us and we are sadly once again seeing wildfires flaring up in and around Northern California and affecting air quality conditions in our region. The Air Quality Index (AQI) readings have been volatile, and have varied at each of the Folsom Lake College (FLC) campuses at any given time. With wind speed and direction changing so frequently, it’s been difficult for the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and the college to do any long-term forecasting. As such, we have been having to evaluate conditions and make a decision regarding on-campus classes and services on a day-to-day basis.

We understand that this can be frustrating for our students and our employees when planning their daily and weekly schedules. We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding, and flexibility as we navigate these conditions together.

Here are links to the instruments we use to gauge AQI in the region:

  • Spare the Air website - The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District is our primary measurement for determining current conditions. Since readings can vary based on the specific methodology and location, we evaluate a variety of other resources as well (listed below).
  • AirNow website
  • PurpleAir sensors and website
    • Main Folsom Campus (two outdoor sensors located by Cypress Hall/FL2 and down by the Athletics Complex, and one located indoors near the Innovation Center)
    • El Dorado Center (one located indoors on the 2nd floor of Building B, and one located outdoors by Building C)
    • Rancho Cordova (while there are no sensors directly on the RCC campus, there is one located outdoors across the street near the Mills Light Rail Station)

As a reminder, here is the Los Rios framework that guides our decision-making regarding air quality:

  • If air quality levels reach 100 AQI (“Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”) on our campuses, sensitive groups of students and employees (including people with heart or lung disease, older adults, pregnant women, and children) should avoid exposure and any unnecessary athletic or physical activity.
  • If air quality levels reach 150 AQI (“Unhealthy”) on our campuses, any unnecessary outdoor activities should be canceled, rescheduled, shortened, or moved indoors if possible (this includes limiting outdoor work and prolonged or heavy exertion for employees, and limiting or canceling athletic events).
  • If air quality levels reach 200 AQI or higher (“Very Unhealthy”) on our campuses, all outdoor activities will be canceled, rescheduled, or moved indoors. Any non-essential outdoor work will be suspended. If AQI levels reach this level and are expected to remain at this level for a prolonged amount of time, classes may be canceled or rescheduled.

Note that there is no specific AQI number where on-campus classes are to be canceled. Each day is important in a learning environment, and we make every decision with an eye toward both short- and long-term implications for our students. Going forward, we will do our best not to cancel classes, but move them to remote instruction, if possible.

College Protocols

  • On days when there is questionable air quality, the AQI will be evaluated twice a day by the FLC Exec Team at 6:30 am (for on-campus daytime classes and work shifts) and 1:30 pm (for on-campus evening classes and work shifts) to determine conditions on each campus.
  • If campus closures are warranted, the college will pivot to remote instruction/services on that campus. You will be notified via email by 7:00 am (for on-campus daytime classes and work shifts) and 2:00 pm (for evening classes and work shifts). Note: These decisions will be made on a campus-by-campus basis, i.e. one campus may be open for in-person services while another may be remote.
  • If no campus closures are needed, all on-campus classes and services will proceed as scheduled. No communications will be sent out.

What to Do Now

Students: Check your email regularly. Make sure to communicate with your professors if you cannot make an on-campus class due to smoke-related issues. For our student-athletes, look for communication from your coaches and training staff. Notices about cancellations can also come via our emergency notification system, so make sure that your emergency contact information is up to date in eServices.

Faculty: If you are the instructor for an on-campus class, please make sure your Canvas course is ready to go so you can switch to remote learning on those days if needed. We know this is not ideal, but we want to exercise every option to keep students on track in your classes. Regularly communicate with your students regarding temporary changes to course modality.

Classified Staff: For all on-campus employees, on days with poor air quality, please try to stay indoors as much as possible. Connect with your supervisor/manager now to determine available accommodations. Also, please be prepared to work remotely, if possible.

The safety of our students, faculty, and staff when on campus is of the utmost importance. To improve indoor air quality in college facilities, the outside air intakes on all HVAC units have been closed. N95 masks are also available for students (at the Welcome & Student Success Center) and employees (contact College Operations).

Overall, please extend grace to all of our students and employees during this time. Some may be directly impacted by evacuations. Some may have health issues that are exacerbated by poor air quality. Some may be met with power outages that prevent internet and computer access. Please be safe and take every precaution to protect the well-being of yourself and your family. We will get through this together as a Falcon family!

Sincerely,

Dr. Rachel Rosenthal
Interim President

Dr. Kellie Butler
Interim Vice President of Student Services

Dr. Monica Flores Pactol
Vice President of Instruction

Dan McKechnie
Interim Vice President of Administration

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