The Turlock and Stockton Stan State campuses will remain closed Nov. 15 due to poor air quality, according to an alert sent to the campus community yesterday evening.
As of 10 am yesterday morning, air quality in Turlock had vastly exceeded the "Very Unhealthy" Level 5, according to the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District. Since then, the index used by the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District has revealed a drop to the "Unhealthy" Level 4.
The poor air quality is caused by local wildfires, namely the Camp Fire currently blazing in Butte County, which has tragically claimed 48 lives and 7,600 residences, according to an updated incident report published by Cal Fire this morning.
Residents should avoid outdoor activity until air quality improves. Updates on air quality and the campus closure will be posted on csustan.edu.
Students on campus were second-guessing this "campus closure" but once they realized it was real, they were prepared to leave. However, some students had concerns about how prepared they will be for upcoming exams due to the cancellation.
Nick Russel (senior, Liberal Studies) was both happy but worried about today's closure. "Well it's kind of good because the air quality is so terrible right now, it's not good for us that have problems breathing or anything like that. On the other hand, the closure isn't good because we have Thanksgiving coming up, finals coming up, and exams coming that we need to prepare for. It takes away the class time we needed to get."
Being a "day off of classes" Russel has more time "to study and finish other work that's due tomorrow."
"We'll have to see what happens tomorrow," Russel said.
As Sandra Figueroa (sophomore, Biology) was walking out of class towards her car, she was covering her mouth and nose to avoid inhaling the bad air.
“I have really bad asthma, so I was really concerned when I got the text,” she said. “This past couple of days my asthma has gotten worse, so I always have my inhaler with me.”
Jose Pulido (junior, Business) and Sandra Orosco (freshman, Social Sciences) were also exposed to the air while walking out of class to head home.
“I wish they could have announced earlier because I commute from Fresno so it was kinda a waste of gas to come to class, but I’ll focus on doing all my work at home,” Pulido said.
Habir Dhillon (sophomore, Biology) was also heading towards his car, parked in the Demergasso Bava Hall (DBH) Parking Lot, after receiving the alert.
Dhillon had noticed students talking with friends and sitting down with their headphones in as if it were a normal day. "I think it's dumb. They are just sitting there and breathing smoke into their lungs the whole time. They should at least go inside a building or something, instead of standing outside talking," Dhillon said.
Once Dhillon passed DBH and saw the parking lot, he knew what was going to happen. "I expected to be in traffic for at least an hour because there are only three exits in this parking lot," Dhillon said.
Omar Azcue (senior, Political Science) was stuck waiting in his car and looking for someone to let him into the line of cars. "Some people are nice enough to let you in or out but if this was an active shooter or something more precedent, people would not be this calm."
Azcue added, "I drove all the way here, I'm not saying I'm happy or sad, but I came to the conclusion that if there was ever a bad enough event on campus...traffic sucks dude. Trying to get out is completely chaotic right now. If there was an active shooter here on campus, there's not really a good sense of how to leave campus other than 'get in your car and book it,' but thankfully there aren't any accidents right now."
Possible changes the campus could make for safe evacuations, according to Azcue, are "having UPD [the University Police Department] or someone to direct people to help the flow of traffic."
This story has been updated to include developments for the second day of Stan State's campus closures.