President Nelsen ceases campus operations through Sunday citing poor air quality

Sac State has not yet decided to cancel classes

Sac+State+displays+signs+saying+face+coverings+are+required+as+the+air+quality+worsens+on+campus+Thursday%2C+Aug.+20.+Sacramento+State+President+Robert+Nelsen+said+only+N-95+masks+and+not+cloth+or+surgical+face+masks+will+be+effective+at+protecting+against+wildfire+smoke.

Chris Wong

Sac State displays signs saying face coverings are required as the air quality worsens on campus Thursday, Aug. 20. Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen said only N-95 masks and not cloth or surgical face masks will be effective at protecting against wildfire smoke.

Mercy Sosa and Chris Wong

Sacramento State will cease operations on campus through Sunday due to the poor air quality caused by the increasing number of fires in the region, according to a SacSend email sent Friday from Sac State President Robert Nelsen. 

The decision to cancel operations through Sunday follows Thursday’s email announcement that Sac State would cease operations though Friday.

The Air Quality Index on campus Thursday exceeded 150, categorized as unhealthy by AirNow, a partnership of government agencies that reports air quality in the U.S.

All non-essential employees were asked to go home Thursday through the end of Friday and now through Sunday as a result. Decisions for Monday operations will be made by 5 p.m. Sunday, Nelsen said in the email. 

Sac State has not yet decided to cancel classes.

“This is a dynamic and evolving situation similar to what we experienced during the Camp Fire in 2018,” Nelsen said. “We cannot yet predict what next week will look like.”

Nelsen said the ASI Children’s Center will be closed until further notice.

Student Health and Counseling services will continue to be available through telehealth. 

Gary Rosenblum, Sac State associate vice president for Risk Management Services, said in an email that only essential on-campus operations such as security and essential facility indoor work would continue. He said telework and online classes will remain open.

Rosenblum said that when official AQI exceeds 150, Sac State will reduce outdoor work, give breaks from exertive outdoor work in a protected indoor environment, provide employees with N95 respirators and inform employees on working safely. 

“On-campus work operations were already curtailed because of COVID-19 Safety Protocols with all operations that can be performed by telework already being conducted from home offices,” Rosenblum said in an email.

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Brian Blomster, Sac State director of news and communications, said that no changes have been made yet on the move-in date for the student dormitories. Sac State has determined indoor air quality is safe in occupied buildings such as student housing, Rosenblum said.

Nelsen encouraged “all members of the Hornet Family” to protect themselves and stay inside. He warned that face masks not marked as “N-95” will not be effective against the smoke.