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Colleges and universities around the Inland Northwest cancel in-person classes amid unhealthy air quality

Gonzaga instructed faculty to get in touch with students about whether they would continue remotely amid the closure.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Whitworth University has canceled in-person classes and activities again on Wednesday has poor air quality continues to blanket the area.

This marks the third day in a row the university has canceled in-person classes due to wildfire smoke causing poor air quality.

Washington State University - Spokane, Carrington College and Whitworth University  canceled classes on Tuesday as wildfire smoke blanketing the area continues to cause hazardous air conditions.

This comes after multiple colleges and universities canceled classes on Monday due to the hazardous air conditions.

Whitworth said that all in-person classes and activities have been canceled, but instructors may choose to hold class online.

Gonzaga, Whitworth and WSU all canceled in-person classes and activities on Monday.

WSU suspended all in-person activities across both the Pullman and Spokane campuses for Monday. Carrington College also canceled all in-person classes.  

North Idaho College canceled all in-person, hybrid and online classes, as well as co-curricular activities for Monday. 

Gonzaga instructed faculty to get in touch with students about whether they would continue remotely amid the closure.

The dining hall remained open while the library will operated on a modified schedule.

The university wrote that it expects normal campus activities to continue Tuesday when air quality is expected to improve. 

The Spokane Regional Health District issued a public safety alert warning residents to stay indoors due to poor air quality on Saturday, recommending no one go outside until the hazardous air improved. 

Spokane has seen some of it's highest Air Quality Indexes ever from wildfire smoke over the past two days, with the AQI registering over 500, which is the end of the air quality scale. 

 "This is an unprecedented number for us," said Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency Communications and Outreach Coordinator Lisa Woodard. 

Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz explained that fine particulate matter in the air can cause small particles to get into the lungs, causing inflammation that can impact every organ in a person's body. 

"Everyone is going to have effects if they're out taking in this very, very dirty air with fine particles," Lutz said. 

The City of Spokane opened a Safer Air center for residents to escape the unclean air, according to city spokesperson Brian Coddington. The center will remain in operation while the AQI sits above 250.