The NSW Department of Education has warned schools across the region to expect worsening bushfire conditions in coming weeks, that may force the implementation of extreme smoke-management strategies.
It follows the independent decision of several schools in Wagga on Thursday, to cancel outdoor activities to better monitor the health and wellbeing of individual students.
Principal at South Wagga Public School, Tanya Whyte, told The Daily Advertiser the decision was based on mounting concerns for the children's welfare.
"We opened classrooms and the library to give kids the option of staying indoors [during recess and lunch]," Ms Whyte said.
"For those who did play outside, we encouraged them to stay under shade and not be out in the direct sun and heat."
Ms Whyte confirmed that the implementation of the smoke haze strategy resulted in the school seeing its students suffer no major respiratory attacks throughout the day.
"It is very good, because it was a bit scary there for us wondering how our students would react to the smoke," she said.
"It's their wellbeing that's the most important thing, and teachers are more than happy to accommodate what needs to be done to keep everyone safe."
Similarly, a spokesperson for North Wagga Public School told The Daily Advertiser that all outdoor play had been cancelled on Thursday, with the need to monitor a secondary cancellation on Friday as well.
The spokesperson said the staff have been directed to keep a close eye on any students known to suffer the effects of asthma, with several of the more severe cases opting to stay home on Thursday.
Kooringal Public School announced via its Facebook page yesterday that it had also made the decision to keep students inside.
On Friday, a total of 16 schools across the state had been listed on the NSW Department of Education website as closed due to dangerous proximity to bushfires.
As the fire season continues to rage on around the state, the department has advised schools to take precautions on a day-to-day basis.
"Bushfires can result in a large amount of smoke particles in the air even when fires may be many kilometres away," a spokesperson for the department said.
"NSW public schools are advised to consider the potential health implication for staff and students on days where there is poor air quality and plan their school activities appropriately."
The department said it would continue to encourage schools to monitor air quality and smoke conditions over the coming weeks.
"Schools are advised to look for ways to minimise exposure and adverse effects of bushfire smoke," the spokesperson said.
"These include [staying] indoors with windows and doors closed, or [staying[ in air-conditioned premises if possible.
"Consider cancelling sporting events and unnecessary outdoor activities, keep staff and students indoors for recess and lunch breaks.
"Keep students calm and avoid vigorous exercise."
With conditions easing on Friday, Ms Whyte explained that students would be allowed out during recess and lunch on Friday, but that the same level of concern would be maintained until the smoke has lifted entirely.
"[Friday] is milder and the haze isn't as bad, but we will have to decide [whether to keep students indoors] from day-to-day," she said.
With the traditional start to summer still weeks away, the department has further warned schools to be prepared for potentially worsening conditions.
"In extreme situations where the entire school premises is heavily affected by smoke, schools will consider alternative arrangements for staff and students," a spokesperson for the department said.
"If parents have concerns about the management of bushfire smoke at their child's school, they are advised to speak with the principal."