East Richmond elementary school sent students home Monday morning

Hamilton elementary school in east Richmond sent its students home Monday morning, due to smoke from a fire in neighbouring New Westminster.

While a Metro Vancouver advisory forecast a slight improvement for Monday’s air quality – which has been impacted by fires in Washington State and Oregon –a fire that set a part of New Westminster Pier Park ablaze on Sunday evening has added to the ground-level smoke and it is expected to stay until later this week.

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Mark McCallum, principal of Hamilton elementary, sent a notice out to parents to pick up their kids on Monday morning shortly after 9 a.m.

“Due to the additional impact of the New Westminster Pier Park fire, classes are not in session at Hamilton Elementary School today, Sept. 14, 2020,” said McCallum in the notice.

Parents were asked to pick up their children and were assured they would be supervised by on-site staff for the time being.

Supervision was provided in “maintained learning cohort integrity” for students whose parents were unable to pick them up.

“We apologize for the late notice, but, under the circumstances, we feel that this is in everyone’s best interest.”

On Sunday, the school district stated in a letter on its website that they have been monitoring the smoke projections from the wildfire and health advisories and will follow the guidance of Vancouver Coastal Health.

School windows and doors will be kept closed and, if the air quality continues as it currently is, “vigorous” outdoor activities, such as P.E., won’t take place, according to the school district’s statement.

Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District have been under a fine particulate matter advisory since Sept. 8 due to the wildfire smoke.

-With files from Maria Rantanen

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