TOULUMNE COUNTY, CA - All schools within the Tuolumne County School District are closed due to poor air quality.
Joe Silva, the superintendent of the Tuolumne County School District, said poor air quality created by smoky skies from the Rim Fire forced school administrators to close all 22 schools in the county - impacting nearly 6,500 students.
"We felt that it's not safe for kids to be in school," Silva explained. "It really wasn't that much different than a snow day. We're used to it, and that's why the reverse 911 worked."
Silva said he meets with several different fire officials as well as the Air Quality Control District twice daily, and together they have determined it is unsafe for students to be in school. All outdoor athletic practices have also been cancelled.
"Inside the schools it was really smoky and all lot of us couldn't breathe," 11th grader Taylor Higginbotham said.
Monday, thousands of students spent the day at home, rather than in the classroom. Parent Holly Britton who has two children in area schools says the district made a good call.
"It does kind of put life on hold for a little bit, but it's not a bad thing," Britton said. "I had to evacuate my horses and I needed my daughter's help - not to mention I know a lot of the kids went to school worried, so it was good that they could come home and see that everything's intact."
While students won't be doing homework Monday night, many took on their own art projects, posting signs around town thanking the firefighters for protecting their homes and schools.
Isabella Brick, a seventh grader at Summerville Elementary school, helped organize a BBQ for the firefighters Monday.
"I think that they're really brave for doing this," Brick said.
Silva said the district will re-assess the air quality again Tuesday to determine when schools will re-open. Silva said they may choose to open campuses on a school-by-school basis and parents will be alerted through the reverse 911 system.