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Air quality concerns raised
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Ceres Unified Athletic Director George Sziraki received a phone call from Child Welfare & Attendance Coordinator John Christiansen at 7:30 on Friday morning.

Christiansen devised a plan after local air officials urged multiple schools to postpone outdoor athletic activity after a large wildfire in northern California sent a smoke plume through the Valley and impacted air quality.

John polled the following school districts: Modesto, Manteca and Merced. He also monitored air quality conditions via the Internet. Air Quality Index values below 100 are generally thought of as satisfactory. Friday's AQI value was 76.

"We would have pulled the plug if it was unhealthy," Sziraki said.

Central Valley and Los Banos played their season opener Friday evening at Ceres High School.

"I got a call from Channel 10 earlier today to see if we were canceling," Central Valley principal Fred Van Vleck said.

"I had a talk with coach Tim Garcia and told him to watch kids who have asthma or trouble breathing. We want to make sure everybody's safe."

On Thursday night, Ceres High's and Grace Davis' varsity football squads competed at Johansen High School. Air quality monitors showed readings that were at "unhealthy for sensitive groups" earlier in the day.

Buhach Colony High School in Atwater postponed its varsity boys soccer game against Central Valley High School.

Los Banos High School canceled its freshman football game against Central Valley High School. Van Vleck tried to reschedule the contest for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Ceres.

"We even told them we'd give them the money from the gate," Hawks coach Randy Flanagan said. "They still wouldn't come down. The kids were disappointed. They wanted to play football."