Athletic directors Greg Magni and John Bussard made the joint decision to cancel conditioning workouts for sports teams from Central Valley and Ceres High, respectively, last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday due to poor air quality as a result of smoke from wildfires in California.
“I could tell driving to work it was not looking good,” Magni said. “John called me and we decided within a minute to shut everything down. Wednesday morning was the first time the air quality dipped into the improper level. It was at Level 4 at 10:45 a.m. It was not safe outside. It wasn’t going to improve. We let the coaches know right away. We put it on social media to get the information out to most of the kids.”
Added Bussard: “I knew right away. It’s part of the crazy year we’re going through.”
Coaches also notified student-athletes through Google Classroom and team apps.
“It’s an easy way to communicate,” Magni said.
Conditioning practices for Ceres High’s softball, boys basketball, cross country, and Central Valley’s football, cheer, girls basketball and girls volleyball teams were canceled on Sept. 30.
Ceres High canceled practices for football, boys soccer, girls tennis, water polo, cross country and girls volleyball on Thursday.
Central Valley’s girls basketball and girls volleyball teams were sidelined as well.
Ceres High’s softball and water polo teams didn’t practice on Oct. 2.
None of Central Valley’s sports teams practice on Fridays at this point of the school year.
“It’s not the first time we’ve had to deal with it,” Magni said. “Two years ago, we had 10 straight days where we couldn’t host any activities because of poor air quality. Wrestling and soccer had to be canceled.”
Created by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Air Quality Index (AQI) measures a variety of pollutants in the air using a 0-500 scale.
An AQI value of 51 to 100 is moderate, while 101-150 is unhealthy for sensitive groups, and 151-200 is unhealthy for everyone.
Ceres’ AQI levels were 162 on Sept. 30, 164 on Oct. 1 and 160 on Oct. 2 according to air-quality.com.
“I’ve been doing this for eight years,” said Magni, Central Valley’s athletic director since 2013-14. “Every year, air quality has factored in as an issue along with the heat index. That’s a commonality in California.”
Magni’s family and friends have been impacted by the wildfires this year.
“My prayers and thoughts go out to all the people and communities,” he said. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
Student-athletes from Ceres Unified School District’s two public high schools were given the green light to resume conditioning workouts on campus on Sept. 21.
Extracurricular activities, including sports, had been suspended until further notice on July 13 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Stanislaus County.