Poor air quality at Foothill Horizons Outdoor School in Sonora has canceled the visit this week of sixth-graders from Crowell Elementary in Turlock and Hidahl Elementary in Ceres.
About 150 to 160 students were scheduled for a four-day stay, said Jessica Hewitt, director and principal of the school, which is run by the Stanislaus County Office of Education. But smoke from at least the Summit Complex trio of fires burning in the Summit Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest has resulted in unhealthy air.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has an air quality alert in effect through Tuesday for the area because of smoke. Children are advised to avoid prolonged exposure.
Foothill Horizons is looking for opportunities to reschedule students from the two schools, Hewitt said, and hoping that no additional weeks will have to be canceled. "We're keeping a really close eye on fire containment and the weather forecasts – the winds, precipitation, pressure fronts coming through."
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The program very much depends on kids being able to learn outdoors during their visit. "We can't do indoor-outdoor," she said.
An open house of Foothill Horizons' outdoor school, summer camp and rental facility is set for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's open to anyone, Hewitt said, but "predominantly the folks we get are parents concerned about having their kids visit."
Should Foothill Horizons have to cancel the open house, it will post the news on its website, www.foothillhorizons.com, and Facebook page. "It's on for now, but we'll be reviewing the hourly forecast," Hewitt said. "It largely depends on the winds."
Foothill Horizons, 21925 Lyons Bald Mountain Road, occupies 143 acres that includes forest, meadows and creeks. It has operated more than 60 years.