By Staff October 28, 2019

UPDATED: OCT. 30, 6:10pm

CIIS remains open tomorrow 10/31/19. AQI is expected to be in the moderate range tomorrow.


UPDATED: OCT. 30, 1:15pm

Dear Community,

For now, Wednesday morning, air quality in San Francisco is still in the good category with an AQI of 24. Depending upon wind patterns, this can be expected to vary throughout the day. CIIS is open and classes will be held as usual.

Starting today, we will make a decision at 4pm each day about holding classes the following day.  That decision will be posted on the website and communicated via the campus listservs.

I am attaching the matrix we are using to make decisions about remaining open. In brief, if the AQI goes above 201, we will consider cancelling or restructuring classes. We urge faculty to be prepared to restructure. Restructuring means:

  • Going online via Canvas Big Blue Button or Zoom. Ben Cline-Suzuki will be designating times for training on both of these options.
  • Recognizing that many people do not currently have power, an immediate switch to online learning may not be possible throughout this wildfire situation. In this case, we are asking faculty to develop assignments that can supplement the work already designated. It is important that students have the opportunity to complete the entire course in which they are enrolled.

Many of you are asking about respiratory masks given the air quality around the Bay. Should the Air Quality Index (AQI) reach 151 or above, we have a limited number of N95 masks that will be available. Please be aware that there is controversy among public health officials about the safety and efficacy of N95 respirator mask usage by the general public. Many public health officials do not recommend use of N95 respirator masks for the general public. The use of N95 respirators is only recommended for those near the fires who do not have the option to be indoors or have access to filtered/recirculated air. N95 respirator use by those with heart and respiratory diseases can be dangerous, and should only be done under a doctor’s supervision. If you are in one of these groups, check with your medical provider about the advisability of using an N95 mask. Also, these masks are not designed for children or people with facial hair because a proper fit cannot be achieved. 

Alternatively, officials recommend the following:

  • Stay indoors with doors and windows closed as much as possible.
  • Minimize all outdoor activities if you see or smell smoke, even if you’re healthy.
  • Children, the elderly, and people with respiratory or heart conditions should be particularly careful to avoid exposure.
  • Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms you believe to be caused by smoke.
  • Those with heart disease should especially limit their smoke exposure since the particulate matter can cause heart attacks. 

If you do choose to wear a N95 respirator, be sure it fits correctly. The following links provide instruction for doing so: and

These are additional resources that may be helpful:

Please take good care during this difficult time.


UPDATED: Oct. 28, 5:30pm

Dear CIIS Community, 

I share the concerns expressed by many regarding the rapidly changing conditions in the Bay Area. We are aware that the effects are widespread and that a number of you are displaced or without power as a result. To support those staff and students in need, we have set up a charging and small relief station in the third floor café and at the ACTCM campus. There are healthful snacks, juice, fruit, vitamin C, even cough drops. We also encourage you to use the library, computer lab, wellness center, meditation room, and first floor art gallery to relax or study in at Mission Street and the community room at Arkansas. The library is open until 6pm, and the other facility spaces until closing (10pm).

As of now CIIS is open and classes are being held as usual. We are monitoring the air quality hourly.  As I am writing this email at 4:15pm on Monday (10/28), the AQI in San Francisco is at 40. This is good air quality and so requires no immediate action.

The combination of the shifting air quality and ongoing power outage updates makes it difficult to plan ahead. Should things change, we will notify all students and staff via social media and respective listservs. Notification will also be placed on the CIIS website.

The UC’s have developed a response matrix that we are adapting for class closings and other decisions. I will share it with the campus community as soon as we have finished our review of the recommendations and decisions. The matrix is based on Air Now, the most reliable resource for air quality condition information. Expect to receive it tomorrow.

We have a limited number of N95 masks that will be available first for those in sensitive groups (i.e., people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and those who are pregnant) should the AQI reach 151 or above. If you are in one of these groups, check with your medical provider about the advisability of using an N95 mask. If air quality in San Francisco were to further deteriorate to “Very Unhealthy” (an AQI of 201 or higher), we will consider cancelling or restructuring classes.

Please check our CIIS website for federal and state resources, as well as resources for how to take care of your health and safety.

Again, our thoughts are with those of you whose homes and families are affected by the fires.

Best regards,



UPDATED: Oct. 28, 12:30pm

CIIS is monitoring the rapidly changing air quality and power outage conditions in the Bay Area. As of now, both CIIS and ACTCM campuses are OPEN, and classes are being held as usual. Should the situation change, we will notify students via Facebook and the student listserv.




California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection:


California Air Resources Board:

Air Quality Index:


Is your home affected? (enter your zip code):

Power Affected Regions (Public Safety Power Shut Off - PSPS):



SF GATE wildfire updates:



SF Bay Transit:


Protect yourself from wildfire smoke (lung & chest health):

How to be safe (emergency preparedness):


Oct. 25, 4:30pm

Dear CIIS Community,

The smoke from the North Bay fires has caused Bay Area air quality to worsen over the last several days, and it is likely to stay poor through the weekend.

Currently, the Air Quality Index (AQI) for San Francisco is 52 which puts it in the “Moderate” category.  The guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for this index level advises unusually sensitive people to consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.  We encourage you to consult with your own medical provider with questions about what is appropriate for you.

You may check this link for updates on air quality in the Bay Area:

Additional information about minimizing health risks can be found at

We will continue to monitor this situation and update the community as needed via the CIIS website and email.

Our thoughts are with the many campus members whose homes and families are directly affected by the fires.


Judie Wexler
President Emerita
California Institute of Integral Studies

Former President, Faculty News, Staff News, Student News, Ecology, Wellness

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