By Zoe Edelman and Lizzy Xie, Staff Writers
// As Acalanes grads return to the Bay Area from around the country, they weren’t experiencing the vacation and relaxation they were hoping for, instead met with a haze of smoke and a sea of white masks.
On Nov. 15, the worst air quality ever recorded began it’s reign over the Bay Area, reaching the dreaded purple zone defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Due to the air quality, districts in the Bay Area canceled school for the following Friday. An early start to Thanksgiving break, many felt the effects of the smoke the entire week.
“My extended family had planned on having Thanksgiving dinner at our house, but after learning about the smoke and how bad it was in Lafayette, we decided to move it to my aunt’s house instead.” sophomore Maria Toldi said from her aunt’s home in Mendocino.
Many families left the Bay Area in an attempt to escape the smoke and harmful air quality. Although freshman Autumn Long’s family planned to head to Donner Lake before the fires, she said that the air quality was much better than the Bay Area’s.
“It’s perfectly safe to be outside, which is really nice,” Long said.
Not only have the fires affected residents plans for Thanksgiving, but they have taken a toll on peoples’ moods.
“I’m deeply saddened for the thousands of people that lost so much. It also just makes everything seem heavier and sadder in general,” Long said. “I have a few friends with asthma that I know were greatly affected, and I was even starting to get a bit of a sore throat and little headaches before I came up [to Donner].”
Thanksgiving break is also a time when many college students come back home to spend time with their family. This year, however, some students were unable to spend time outside. Katrina Lee, currently a first year attending Brigham Young University, said, “I did want to go walk around San Francisco, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that. Most of my plans include hanging out inside.”
The importance of news and the internet helped most college students keep track of what was happening back in California. Photos and videos circulating social media showed the deadly fires all over the state.
“A lot of people knew I was from California, so they asked if the fires affected my home. The media coverage was helpful because I felt like I could keep up with what was happening even though I was across the country,” Anna Cain, a freshman at Parsons School of Design, said.
Due to the close proximity of the fires, many students knew people who had lost their properties.
“Some girls in my sorority who I’m close to lost everything in the Woolsey fire,” Maddie Bakar, a sophomore at the University of California Santa Barbara, said. “You always hear about people losing everything on the media, but when you actually know someone who did, it makes it that much more real.”