Air Quality Protocol

  • All Missoula County Public Schools use a specific protocol for determining restrictions on outdoor activities (including recess and athletic games & events) for students in the event of diminished air quality in the Missoula valley due to wildfire smoke. The health and safety of our students and staff are of the highest importance in the decision protocol.

    When the air quality "reading" at the Boyd Park reporting station reaches the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” determination (per the air quality matrix), district officials will review the air quality data and alert building principals that they should take steps to limit outdoor exposure for children and/or adults with heart and or lung disease, such as asthma. This may also include amending recess schedules, or cancelling/postponing school athletic activities, if air quality appears to be significantly poor at one site in the valley.
    When the air quality reaches the “Unhealthy” level or worse (per the matrix), building principals will cancel recess and/or move outdoor activities such as physical education classes and athletic practices to indoor locations. Principals may also decide to postpone/cancel athletic games or contests if air quality does not improve by game time. 

    Parents will be notified of cancelled/postponed athletic events or other after-school outdoor activities via the District's Alertnow communications system and school websites. Parents are welcome to contact each school directly if they have questions about scheduled activities during periods of smoke. 
    The following websites provide updated information on Missoula's air quality:
    Air Quality Categories and Recommended Actions
    The most current air quality information is available by logging on directly to the Boyd Park monitoring station. This will allow principals to view hour-by-hour air quality readings for the Missoula area. The site may be accessed at: (select Boyd Park).

    The air quality hotline may be accessed by telephone at (406) 258-3600. This recorded information is updated only twice daily, so it may not be the most current information. If, however, there are significant changes in air quality, the hotline may be updated more frequently.


    An additional source of information is the Missoula City-County Health Department website where they provide information about air quality in the Missoula and Seeley-Swan areas:  This site often includes narrative not available from the Boyd Park monitoring site or on the hotline.


    Administrators should consult these sites in order to determine whether to allow outdoor activities to proceed. The chart below is used to help administrators in the decision-making process. 



    Air Category


    Recommended Action

    District Action

    Other Information


    12 miles and up





    9-13 miles



    Remind Staff of Guidelines

    Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

    5-9 miles


    Limited exposure for children and people w/heart or lung disease. This may include shortening outdoor practices and recess & H/PE time

    Contests may be shortened w/MHSA approval. Decision made by host Administrator.


    2.25-5 miles

    Children are to limit prolonged exertion and limit time outdoors. People with heart or lung problems follow management plan.

    All Athletic practices are to be moved indoors & recess outdoors cancelled-outdoor H/PE moved indoors. Limit any exertion.

    Host Administrator may cancel contest upon checking forecasted air quality by game time through from the State Medical Officer

    Very Unhealthy

    1.25-2 miles

    All should limit exertion limit time spent outdoors. People with heart or lung problems follow management plan.

    All outdoor activities and practices are cancelled. All indoor activities including practices are cancelled.



    1.25 miles or less

    All indoor and outdoor events cancelled

    All events cancelled-meetings, clubs, plays, etc.