Smoke from the King Fire in El Dorado County, Calif., has altered the Northern Nevada prep schedule this week.
As of Tuesday, officials from the Churchill County School District, Churchill County High School and the Lake Tahoe Unified School District (Calif.) said no decisions have been made to change the location of Friday’s football game between Fallon and South Tahoe.
School district officials in Carson and Douglas reported Tuesday no issues of smoke would change any scheduling.
“At this time, there are no restrictions,” CCSD Superintendent Sandra Sheldon said. “As far as I know, no one has called or talked about any restrictions. We would follow the same protocols (as last year) if the smoke increased.”
The boys soccer match between Fallon and Truckee on Tuesday, meanwhile, was moved to Fallon due to air quality concerns in Truckee. The volleyball match between the two schools in Truckee was postponed Tuesday afteroon.
The Northern Division I-A girls golf teams have been rescheduled for Thursday in Sparks, while the DI teed off Tuesday in Reno.
As for the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the organization was down this path last year, when the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park and American fire west of Truckee, which burned more than 260,000 acres, forced practices indoors and games to be relocated the opening week of the season.
This year, however, league play is in full swing creating a sensitive environment and decision-making process, especially when it concerns football. Several football games last season were moved outside the smoke perimeter to places such as Winnemucca, Walker Lake and even California.
“Most of the things last year, the decisions were being able to be made earlier in the day because the smoke was in during the morning hours,” Nelson said. “This year, that doesn’t seem to be the trend.”
Donnie Nelson, assistant director at the NIAA, said the organization is not making the decisions to cancel or postpone any games this year. Instead, the NIAA is coordinating with each school district, who will decide whether or not to play.
Nelson said a lesson learned from last year’s wildfires is the NIAA cannot make blanket statements regarding all districts when the conditions vary so wildly from Lake Tahoe to Reno to Fallon.
“Between the district sites and our office, we are all monitoring it,” Nelson said. “It’s day-to-day and hour-to-hour.”
Nelson said officials may even halt an event if the conditions worsen during play.
“This is new precedent,” Nelson said. “What was learned (from last year) was districts and there particular locations are probably better equipped to make better decisions, just being in the immediate area.”
Angie Keil, public information officer for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, said the air quality has been good in South Tahoe the past several days. Currently, no plans have been made to move or postponed the football game between Fallon and South Tahoe on Friday.
However, El Dorado County (Calif.) officials have installed an air quality index meter in South Tahoe to gauge air conditions, Keil said.
“Right now the smoke doesn’t look too bad,” she added. “We will be working with the El Dorado Air Quality Management District to get the readings. We get the readings from El Dorado County and then refer to the (NIAA) chart.”
The NIAA distributed an air quality index chart last year during the Rim and American fires to inform school districts when practices, games and other outdoor school activities should be conducted.
As of Tuesday morning, the King Fire had burned 11,570 acres in an area near the south fork of the American River northeast of Pollock Pines, according to the Sacramento Bee. The fire started Saturday and by Monday had scorched 8,600 acres.
According to the Bee, containment was still at 5 percent on Tuesday morning.
“Decisions have to made as late as possible to allow every opportunity for the contests to continue,” Nelson said. “And at times that teams are travelling, so you want to make decisions in a timely manner.”