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Air quality forcing schools from Lolo to Hamilton to cancel outdoor activities

Lolo PE Air
Missoula Air Quality
Air Quality Rankings gfx
Posted at 3:19 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 12:59:07-04

LOLO - School is in session at Lolo, but by the looks of the playground, you'd have no idea.

Much of Western Montana has seen unhealthy air quality and schools are having to adjust their outdoor activities to keep their students safe.

It is a theme that is being seen south of Missoula — especially in the Bitterroot Valley.

Basketball Hoops Lolo
"Unhealthy" air quality on Sept. 12, 2022, kept students from Lolo to Hamilton indoors.

Schools from Lolo to Hamilton have kept kids inside during recess and are also changing how afterschool activities are being run.

“Starting today and for the foreseeable future will be inside for our practices and will likely canceling or outdoor contests,” said Lolo Schools Superintendent Dale Olinger.

The air quality in Hamilton remained at “very unhealthy” — one step below “hazardous”, the highest on the DEQ scale — as of mid-afternoon on Monday.

Air Quality Rankings gfx

The decision was made to cancel outdoor activities and keep students inside as much as possible.

“You know, looking at the map, we're probably one of the worst in the state," said Hamilton Schools Activity Director Travis Blome. "And it's, you know, put us kind of to a screaming halt with all of our activities.”

Although we have seen the smoke roll in later this year than previously, adjusting activities due to smoke is not new.

Dale Olinger
Lolo School District Superintendent Dale Olinger

“Regrettably, we've kind of come into a routine with this and we sort of brace for this every year," Olinger told MTN News.

"Sometimes we get away without having to do much for smoke adjustments, but we've done this several times in the recent past, so regrettably, it's become old hat," Olinger continued.

Experts are asking that everyone limit their time outside and clean their indoor air.

Stevensville High School Principal Eric Larson tells MTN News that homecoming week activities have been postponed until the last week of September due to poor air quality. Additionally, practice and recess have been moved indoors.

Check here for a map of the current air quality in your location.