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Athletic events postponed due to smoke

The Medford School District has postponed all of its outdoor athletic events and activities Tuesday because of unhealthy air quality due to smoke, said district athletic director Amy Tiger.

Other districts have announced postponements as well.

“We’re taking it day-by-day,” said Tiger. “The big question mark is Friday’s football game, but it’s too early yet to make a decision about that.”

North Medford hosts Shasta, California, in football on Friday.

Boys soccer matches postponed today include Ashland at North Medford and South Medford at South Eugene. Girls matches postponed are South Eugene at South Medford and North Medford at Tualatin.

Other area postponements today include Phoenix and Grants Pass boys and girls soccer, Henley at Crater in boys soccer.

Air quality in the northern part of the state is bad enough that matches could not be moved there, said Tiger.

There have not been any volleyball matches postponed.

Events involving teams to the south are also in question.

“We’re running into the issue of fires all around us, throughout the state and also Northern California,” said Tiger.

The Oregon School Activities Association sent a letter to member schools clarifying which air quality indexes should be used so everyone’s on the same page.

The OSAA consulted with the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Environmental Quality regarding which measure (AQI or PM2.5) would be best to use when evaluating situations involving outdoor activities.

The OSAA recommends the 24-hour average PM2.5 as the most appropriate measure.

In its letter, the OSAA said there is consensus that the 1-hour PM2.5 does not reflect broader trends in air quality.

A recommended source for real-time air quality data for Oregon is the Oregon Smoke Information website, oregonsmoke.blogspot.com. It includes air monitoring data from state and federal agencies.

Limited visibility is also an indication of poor air quality.

“In our area, we’ve really had visibility for a mile or less,” said Tiger.

When air quality levels are in the red, there are to be no games.

The OSAA allows practice when conditions are in the red, but they should be limited to two hours. Tiger said Medford is allowing 1 ½ hours, with reduced gear and more breaks.

Kids will also be kept inside for recess and PE, said Tiger.

Cross country runners are particularly affected. Some have been trying to get work in pools, said Tiger.

Medford is scheduled to host the Southwest Conference pre-district meet Sept. 13, but member schools are expected to discuss soon the possibility of moving the date, said Tiger.

The district website, www.medford.k12.or.us, will be updated periodically with air quality news, said Tiger, and she’ll send updates to schools as they become available.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@mailtribune.com