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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Seeley Lake Schools Installing HEPA Filters Due To Wildfire Smoke

Smokey skies in Seeley Lake, August 10, 2017.
Eric Whitney
Smokey skies in Seeley Lake, August 10, 2017.

Seeley Lake-area kids will at least have a buffer from the dangerous local wildfire smoke when school resumes. The Missoula County Health Department and school officials are teaming up to place highly efficient HEPA air filters throughout local schools.  

“We have worked with the elementary school up there in Seeley Lake to get air filters in all of the classrooms," says Missoula County Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield. "When kids start school, there will be air filters in every classroom and learning space to give them safer air to breathe when they’re at school."

Because Seeley-Swan High School is newer than the local elementary buildings, filtration can be directly installed into that building’s ventilation system.

Seeley Lake Superintendent Chris Stout says it’ll cost about $6,000 to provide a total of 40 filters, with the county chipping in for half.

When the air pollution crisis ends, the county will take back its 20 filters and save them for future use.

Stout says the schools are also taking these extra steps to protect students.

"We are delaying our sports programs at the elementary school and waiting until the first day of school, or later, to start practices because the smoke – you know, you can’t do anything outside right now as far as physical activity goes. The high school has been doing alternative things for practice for football and volleyball, including practicing inside and going to other locations."

Seeley Lake–area elementary schools resume classes September 5. Seeley-Swan High starts next week.

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