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Cold weather, inversion has school opting for indoor recess


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SOUTH JORDAN — Between frigid temperatures and poor air quality, many Utah schools are choosing to keep kids indoors during recess.

At Daybreak Elementary School, the administration is trying to counter the growing cabin fever by providing a variety of activities.

"We've had quite a few days where we've had challenges with cold weather and the air quality," said Doree Strauss, principal at Daybreak Elementary, adding that this winter has been more difficult than others.

Students have been staying busy with drawing activities and games. Sometimes students even do yoga in the classroom to work out their pent-up energy from staying indoors all day.

"We just want them to be able to do a variety of activities so they're not feeling cooped in," Strauss said.

Bethany Merrill, a fifth-grader, has been enjoying indoor recess and doesn't mind trading classrooms for playgrounds.

"We can run around and just have fun," Merrill said. "I actually like it because it's really cold outside and the air pollution is really bad."

But other students miss being able to go outside and have already grown tired of the monotony of indoor recess, day after day.

"I think it's kind of cool, but it can get kind of boring after a while," said sixth-grader Sarah Moore.

According to state guidelines, once the level of particulate matter in the air reaches 35 micrograms per cubic meter, students with very sensitive conditions should stay indoors. At 55 micrograms per cubic meter, those with respiratory issues are kept inside. It's not until 90 micrograms per cubic meter that schools are required to have closed-door recess.

The murky air Utah has been seeing isn't drastic enough to require mandatory indoor recess, but many schools, like Daybreak Elementary, are cautious of the combination of the freezing weather and inversion.

"Even though 90 is the one where all students stay in, I go pretty below that just to make sure the students aren't breathing the pollution," Strauss said.

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Mike Anderson

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