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Air Quality Update for Thursday, Nov. 15

November 14, 2018

Dear Campus Community,

We continue to receive questions about whether classes should be canceled given air quality conditions resulting from the tragic fires in our state. In making this determination, we rely on the best Air Quality Index (AQI) resource for our area, which is the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, and also on expert medical advice. Please note that several other online sources are not reliable and often fail to provide real-time information. This has caused some members of our campus community to believe that yesterday the air quality in Merced was comparable to nearby areas such as Stanislaus County and the Sacramento/Davis area, when in fact it was significantly better.

As of 6 a.m. today the AQI in the Merced area is in the range of 20-30; in the Turlock area, it remains over 100, and it is significantly higher in the Davis/Sacramento area. These numbers do fluctuate, though, and those with heart conditions and respiratory disorders should take caution. Others should avoid prolonged outdoor activity.

While it is thus unnecessary to cancel classes or close the campus at this point in time, some specific actions are recommended for students and faculty with sensitive conditions.

  1. Students with such conditions should notify instructors of the reason for your absence. Instructors will assist you in making up missed work.
  2. Staff with such conditions should notify their supervisors, who will provide you with options for working at home or, if that is not possible, making up missed work or taking sick leave.

We are also canceling all outdoor athletic activities for students today, Nov. 15.

Please use caution and stay indoors if possible. Children, the elderly and people with respiratory ailments are the most susceptible under these air quality conditions. We will continue to provide masks that filter out smoke particles to students, faculty and staff at the following locations: Students First Center, Kolligian Library Room 222, Student Health Center, and the Valley Terrace Housing Office.

We will continue to closely monitor the air quality in and around Merced, in consultation with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and medical professionals in the area. We are also coordinating our efforts with our local educational colleagues, including Merced College and our K-8 community, based upon the expert medical advice.    

At present, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is forecasting a significant improvement in air quality beginning on Friday morning, with continued clearing throughout the weekend. We will continue monitor and will keep the campus community updated. We also realize that regardless of the actual physical health threats posed by the current air quality, the environment we have been living in the last few days has been difficult and disturbing for many. 

If you experience any emergent respiratory symptoms, please call 911, and please report any immediate public safety concerns to 209-228-2677 (on campus) or 911 (off campus). Students who are experiencing non-urgent respiratory symptoms are encouraged to call the student health center for an appointment at 209-228-2273.

Any significant impacts to the campus will be posted to, and the UCM Alert notification system will be activated.

Our thoughts are with the many people effected by fires throughout the state, especially our students and their families and friends impacted by this disaster.


Dorothy Leland