Preschool closures due to poor air quality?

Our preschool opened up (with stable cohorts, daily temperature checks, etc) last month, but it is now closed again due to the poor air quality. I'm curious to know whether other programs that were recently open for in-person instruction are also closing during this time. If your preschool is closed due to poor air quality, I'd love to learn more about the criteria your preschool is using in deciding when to close the school. Thanks!

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Our preschool has air purifiers in each classroom and is not closing due to poor air quality.  However, the preschool is not having the kids go outside on bad air quality days.

Our daycare has remained open during the bad air quality days and is just keeping the kids indoors.  We have chosen to keep our son home on bad air quality days since we are working from home anyway and it is safer for him to be home with our air purifiers working on max, but I retained the option to drop him off when I feel comfortable doing so.  We check air quality in mornings and if it is red or worse keep him home.  On yellow or green days he goes to daycare.  On orange days we do the smell test and it depends on how busy of a work day it is for us. 

Our son's preschool closed last Friday and this Monday, due to poor air quality. The criteria to close campus depends on if the air quality forecast is at or above unhealthy (red) level at the start of the school day and unlikely to improve during the day. Families are notified by 7:30 AM if school is closed. My little guy had three half days and two full days before school closed. We are grateful the air quality has improved, as school reopened yesterday!

Our preschool had a few days where they did early dismissal when it was smokey and hot, so that they didn't have to keep the kids in a closed room all afternoon. They haven't been closed all day for any of the days but now we're sorta in a generally understood, could be a 1/2 day on any given day depending on any number of factors holding spot. Our school uses and will keep the kids inside/windows closed if it is near/over 100. 

Yes, our preschool closed last week on Thursday 9/10 at noon, when the AQI climbed close to 200. They remained closed Friday 9/11 and Monday 9/14, and reopened yesterday. Their criteria for closing is an AQI of 200 (or close to it). The classrooms have air filters in them, so when inside they're probably breathing better air than we are at home, but it sounds like the guidelines are set by the Alameda County DPH. It's been so hard! One more hard thing. 

Our preschool in El Cerrito has not closed down for poor air quality, just removed the outdoor play time. I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know exactly what criteria they are using to make that decision.

When my daughter was in preschool, and the Air Quality Index was as it was last week, over 200 (very unhealthy), I would have been relieved that the school closed. Schools will definitely close at over 200. Erring on the side of caution, many will close at above 100 (unhealthy for sensitive groups) or 150 (unhealthy). Schools are also obligated to protect their teachers and employees, so more than just kids are being considered in the decision to close. Here is an interesting article on this topic:

Hi! Yes, our daycare/preschool closed when the AQI was over 200 for a sustained period of time. This resulted in a school closure last Friday, but none of the other days. On the days it was in the range of 101-150, the children remained indoors with air purifiers, with periodic window opening to let air circulate to help mitigate COVID-19 exposure. I'm posting the more detailed plan below in case it's helpful!



During times of compromised air quality, we monitor changes hourly to ensure we are making the right decisions for our students, Prek through 8th grade. 

We rely on several reputable resources to check the current status and forecast: 

  • Air Now from the EPA to monitor AQI (Air Quality Index). The EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particulate matter (10 and 2.5), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Of these, we are particularly watching PM2.5. For more information regarding air pollutants please go here

  • The San Francisco specific data on Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) and Purple Air which gives us a neighborhood by neighborhood representation and can offer a local perspective for our community.

  • Air Matters app on a smartphone

  • AlertSF from the City of SF air quality today. Administrative staff must sign up for their notification system

School Policy Guidelines

Below is an outline of the actions --- will take based on Air Quality Index guidelines developed by the EPA found on Airnow.  The team will continue to assess and use our best judgment when In addition, the school uses air filters in each classroom setting and keep all windows and doors closed throughout the school day, whenever possible. 




Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

Very Unhealthy

Air Pollution Warning









PM 2.5 (µg/m3)







O3 (ppm)






K - 8 


No limitations

No limitations

Move Indoors

Move Indoors


All outdoor activities shall be heavily restricted.


School closure considered.

Extended Care 

(Early Care as applicable)

No limitations

Limit activities for sensitive groups

Move indoors, cancel outdoor activities

Move indoors, cancel outdoor activities

Outdoor PE

No limitations

No limitations

Move Indoors

Indoor / Low Impact Only


Early Childhood Program

No limitations

Limit intense activities

Indoors Only

Indoors Only - School closure considered depending on the  timing 


Our number one goal is the safety and health of our students, faculty, and staff. We will communicate with you as fast and efficiently as possible so you can plan and prepare accordingly.

We will consider closing for classes if the AQI reaches above 200 for a sustained period, as well as if the prediction remains above 200. We will aim to communicate by 8p the night prior, the school will send a message (text/email) informing everyone if we will close the following day.