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With forecasts calling for improved air quality, Seattle campus will reopen Friday

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Normal operations will resume Friday at Northeastern University’s Seattle campus after it was closed for most of the week as a health precaution against smoke-filled skies from nearby wildfires, said Dave Thurman, the regional chief executive officer and dean in Seattle.

Classes will be held at their usual times and NUflex remains an option for remote learning after conditions steadily improved following a “super massive cloud of smoke” that had descended over the area last Thursday night into Friday. The campus has been closed since Friday because of air quality that at one time ranked among the worst in the world.

Seattle smelled like a barbecue and officials urged residents to close windows and doors and stay inside, according to local news reports.

Over the past week, the skies have slowly begun clearing and the National Weather Service is predicting much-needed rain that could help emergency personnel battling wildfires in Washington, California, and Oregon.

The Washington Department of Ecology reports that Seattle’s air quality is steadily improving, and it appears the worst is over, so “the Seattle campus will reopen on Friday based on forecasts from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency,” Thurman said.

Closing campus did not impact learning since remote instruction was already available to reduce density and promote safety during the COVID-19 health emergency. The Seattle campus, which holds about 800 students and 50 faculty personnel, did not open primarily because of the way outdoor air is circulated into its buildings.

The majority of classrooms and offices are in a building that relies on a fresh air circulation system activated by temperature.

“So when the temperature gets warm enough, the building’s ventilation system would have circulated the hazardous smoky air right into the building and into our classrooms,” said Thurman.

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