A local parent is upset that the staff of Landels Elementary School allowed her child and others outside during the school day on Dec. 17, while smoke from the fire burning at Sims Metal Management in Redwood City could be smelled in the air above Mountain View.
An official with the Mountain View Whisman School District said that district staff had acted proactively to alert parents and school staff of the hazy conditions, and had advised that students not be allowed to engage in physically strenuous activity.
That was not enough, according to Connie Chin.
Chin said it was unacceptable that children at Landels were allowed outside -- even if they were prohibited from playing on the playground or running around. Chin said her daughter told her that teachers instructed the children they could read, or socialize in groups while outside for recess.
"I was pretty upset about that," Chin told the Voice. In her opinion, the children should have been kept inside, as the children at other district schools were instructed to do.
Chin said she believed the district administration did not do enough to convey the gravity of the situation to individual schools. "It was not explicit enough," Chin said of the district's directions, which were sent out in an email to school officials and parents.
Kathi Lilga, assistant to the superintendent, defended the district, saying all schools were instructed to take precautions -- which included keeping children from engaging in physically strenuous activity, holding physical education classes indoors, and keeping children with respiratory conditions inside.
According to Lilga, there was no "shelter in place" order issued by the Mountain View fire or police departments, or by the county. Still, the district did issue a warning to all of its schools -- a step Lilga identified as "proactive."