Aiken County schools move outdoor activities inside, air quality alert downgraded to Code Orange

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Many of the CSRA’s South Carolina counties are on a Code Orange air quality alert.

While South Carolina may not be in any immediate danger from the wildfires ripping through parts of its neighboring states, the smoke has found its way into the southern counties.

Immediate effects include the feeling of burning eyes, coughing and a runny nose. However, the long-term effects of breathing in the smoke are sometimes worse than the fire itself.

The unhealthy air is keeping playgrounds empty and students indoors.

Since the blazing fires started, the administrative staff at Horse Creek Academy has urged teachers to skip recess.

“Fortunately technology has allowed us to diversify instruction, so that a classroom setting could turn into something much more interesting now.”  Frank Roberson, Executive Director of Horse Creek Academy, told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

While the smoke lingers, teachers are getting creative with ways to give kids a break from schoolwork. A class of second graders found a new use for the Smart Board in their classroom.

Roberson says the hazardous conditions create a challenge for educators because recreational time is a huge part of student life at Horse Creek Academy.

“Our physical education teacher has been brilliant in the amount and the variability of activities that she has allowed indoors.” Roberson said.

Since last week, the school nurse Sara Shealy says kids haven’t stopped flocking her to office. Now that’s carried over, into this week, as the smoke has shifted closer to Aiken.

“One of the kids that just came in he’s like Nurse Shealy why can’t we go outside today? It doesn’t look like smoke outside.” Shealy told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Shealy says the haze may look like it’s clearing up, but sometimes it’s what you don’t see that hurts you.

“If you stay in it and you don’t moved to fresh air you, it can progress to where you have a problem,” said Shealy.

The school canceled all after school activities Tuesday and Wednesday.

They will continue to monitor conditions and take the necessary precautions.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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