CWU News

With Fire Season Underway, CWU Emergency Management Will Closely Monitor Air Quality 

Air quality index color wheel

CWU Emergency Management will be carefully monitoring the Air Quality Index (AQI) this summer after the state made changes to its safety standards.

As the summer heat intensifies, the threat of wildfires is increasing across the region. Air-quality concerns go hand-in-hand with wildfire season, and Central Washington University will be providing health and safety updates to the campus community throughout the summer.

Due to the state’s recent changes to air-quality safety standards, CWU Emergency Management officials will be keeping an even closer eye on the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the weeks and months to come, using the AirNow website.

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) earlier this year filed emergency wildfire smoke rules to protect workers, and these changes could have a significant impact on campus operations between now and the end of wildfire season in October. 

We encourage you to visit our Emergency Notifications webpage for updates that may affect CWU operations and members of the campus community.

According to new L&I guidelines, if the AQI reaches: 

  • 101 or higher (which indicates “unhealthy for sensitive groups”) — CWU will be required to provide safety alerts and accommodations, including N-95 masks for voluntary use, to the campus community. N-95 masks are available at the SURC Information Center and in Human Resources (Mitchell Hall, first floor). 
  • 101 to 150 — CWU will cancel all outdoor campus activities for everyone but essential personnel. Employees who are considered essential will be required to wear N-95 masks outdoors when the AQI reaches 101 or higher. The previous standard for canceling outdoor activities on campus was 151, or “unhealthy” for all individuals. 
  • 301 or above — all in-person campus events and activities will be canceled. Online classes would be allowed to continue on schedule, while non-essential employees would be required to work remotely.

Emergency Management officials will use the CWU Alert! system to communicate campus closures or event cancellations via text, voice, and email messages. In addition, a pop-up banner will be posted to the CWU homepage, the Emergency Notification webpage will be updated, and messaging will be posted to CWU's official social media platforms. 

Media Contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518