Smoky Conditions Force School Activities Indoors - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/17/06

Smoky Conditions Force School Activities Indoors

All you saw out on the playground was a haze of smoke hanging over the school grounds. All you saw out on the playground was a haze of smoke hanging over the school grounds.
Students at May Howard Elementary make the most of things indoors. Students at May Howard Elementary make the most of things indoors.

It's almost impossible to miss, a thick blanket of smoke is covering the Coastal Empire, and it's forcing people to stay inside. The change in wind caused smoke to drift up from the massive wildfire on the Georgia-Florida line.

Health officials issued a smoke advisory to warn residents of the Coastal Empire: see Smoke-Related Health Advisory in Effect.

The smoke is forcing many to take precautionary measures, especially at area schools. WTOC went to May Howard Elementary School, where the principal decided to cancel all the students' outdoor activities.

It was a big disappointment, because this was day the children didn't have to wear uniforms and they had all sort of fun activities planned outdoors. But because the smoke was so thick this morning on Wilmington Island, the principal decided it wasn't safe.

It was supposed to be a day of fun outside, with lots of games and activities, but all you saw out on the playground was a haze of smoke hanging over the school grounds. The planned fun day outside moved inside because of it.

"We were supposed to go outside and play volleyball," said student Maggie Hannan.

Student like Maggie and Leah Scrino are making the best of it, playing in the gym.

"With the smoke all around us, we have children with asthma and probably more than we know about, but we don't need any kind of medical risks because they are outside having fun," explained Principal Vernon Cole.

School nurse Lynne Steinfeld says students and teachers were in and out of her office all day, complaining of headaches sore throats, and burning eyes.

All, she says, are symptoms of exposure to the thick smoke. "It's bad for kids to be outside and it's bad for anybody to be outside the way the smoke is."

And even though the students would like to be outside--as Maggie told us, "Inside is not as big as outside. There's playground equipment and fun stuff do to"--they understand why the principal had a change of heart.

"There's a wildfire and wind blowing smoke over here and people might get sick," said Leah.

Reported by: Brooke Kelley, bkelley@wtoc.com

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