ROSEVILLE (CBS13) – Smoke or COVID exposure, what’s worse? It’s the catch 22 schools and families are battling this week as wildfires send smoke across the region.

Pediatric infectious disease expert, Dr. Dean Blumberg of UC Davis, said the outdoors may be more dangerous.

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“They really should stay indoors and that does limit their possibility for physical activity,” Dr. Blumberg said, alluding to indoor sports with a mask on as a substitute.

But there’s still concern from some regarding what students may be missing when stuck inside, and off the playground. Districts make the decisions based on air quality trends, remaining fluid with the trends.

“I’m hoping they’re not exposing them outside too much,” said Enery Stamas, a mom of two first graders.

She’s unaware of what’s being done at their school in terms of recess or lunch, but just hopes they’re safe.

“I just want to protect my kids, and I think everyone wants to protect their kids,” Stamas said.

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Other parents, like Piper, completely understand the need for indoor recess and lunch – but worry about their mental wellbeing without exercise.

“They tend to focus more when they’re able to release that energy and sit quieter in class,” she said.

With concerns about being cooped up, Dr. Blumberg reminds parents that it’s only temporary, and can be compared to rainy, winter days spent indoors. He calls outdoor smoke exposure more dangerous for everyone.

“The small particles that make the air quality really bad can have an impact on lung function,” Dr. Blumberg said. “They can result in deterioration in lung function over time.”

He said despite COVID risks, staying inside with masks and distancing may be a small price to pay for more protection. Parents, like Stamas, agree.

“For them to be huffing and puffing—especially because I can see ash—I think it wouldn’t be great for them to be outside for too long,” Stamas said.

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The unhealthy AQI also postponed several games on Friday night.