BARSTOW - Fifteen school districts in the High Desert, including Barstow Unified School District and Silver Valley Unified School District, will be closed on Friday.

Barstow Unified School District superintendent Jerry Bergmans said the closing is due to the poor air quality in the High Desert as smoke from the Southern California wildfires began drifting into the region Thursday.

"The air is not healthy, even if it gets to the point where it doesn't looks smoky, the air quality is not good; It's unhealthy," he said.

He said that superintendents from across the region made the decision to close in a conference call on Thursday morning. Officials will monitor the situation and decide whether to hold school next week in the coming days.

"Not knowing what the air quality will be we have to let some time elapse," Bergmans said.

He said a similar situation occurred during the last major wildfire in 2003 and schools closed temporarily. All school faculty, staff and students will have Friday off. Barstow district office employees and principals will work at least part of the day, he said. The school days will not be made up at a later date because state law does not require time lost to natural disasters to be replaced, Bergmans said. On Thursday, local schools had canceled recess, physical education and all outside activities for students or moved them indoors.

At Barstow High, the football team's homecoming game against Silverado High School was postponed to Monday. The homecoming dance will be held on Friday as scheduled but the crowning of the homecoming king and queen has been moved to Monday, sad BHS athletic director Vince Williams.

Diane Ast, executive assistant at the Silver Valley schools, said that schools will be closed Friday but should resume Monday. She said that Friday's varsity football game against Lucerne Valley has been tentatively rescheduled to 2:30 at Lucerne. She said any changes to schedule or location will be posted on Silver Valley High School's website.

Spokeswoman for Barstow Community College Maureen Stokes, said that the college students will have class on Friday and that practices for athletic teams will be held indoors.

The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health sent out a press release Thursday advising young children, the elderly and those with lung or heart ailments stay indoors and to avoid prolonged or heavy activity due to the smoke.

The release advised county residents to keep vehicle windows and vents closed and to seal the doors and windows of their homes to prevent the smoke from getting in.

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