Towards Healthy Schools 2015: New Report from Coalition for Healthy SchoolsFebruary 15th, 2013
The environment that your child learns in matters. When conditions are unhealthy, air quality is poor, toxic cleaning products are used, and pesticides are applied at schools, the health of our children is at stake. This new Towards Healthier Schools 2015 report, published by the Coalition for Healthier Schools, illuminates the dangers of such environments and offers recommendations to make your school a healthier, more engaging, and successful learning environment.
Asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism are becoming more prevalent in children in the U.S., while special education in public schools is decreasing. Since 2006, the Healthy Schools Network, which coordinates the Coalition for Healthier Schools, has been conducting studies on the safety and quality of indoor environments at schools in America; this new Towards Healthier Schools 2015 report, which was introduced to Congress and the Obama Administration on February 5, 2013, states that poor environmental conditions at schools are conflicting with classroom attendance and learning abilities of kids. It includes data on health, demographics, and school environmental quality for each state and claims that, "all school children should be considered at elevated risk of health and learning difficulties due solely to the unexamined and or unaddressed risks in their schools and the lack of public health services for children…." Accompanied by this report was a letter signed by 75 organizations, including Green Schools Initiative, to demand funding for EPA's children's health and schools-related voluntary programs.
The Towards Healthier Schools 2015 report gives this summary of California:
According to the California Department
of Public Health (CDPH), 16.2% of
school-aged children in California have been diagnosed with asthma (see: www.californiabreathing.org/grants-awards/air-health-awards). Asthma-related absences cost schools $31 million annually in lost revenue. Since
2009, California has made some progress to ensure that schools have healthy learning environments despite major cutbacks in school maintenance budgets. More schools and districts are switching voluntarily to green cleaning and seeing positive results on student health. Through the AIR Health Awards, CDPH has
granted $83,000 to 33 schools and 10 districts that have instituted air quality improvement plans that address cleaning supplies, pesticide use, classroom pets,
bus idling, and school smoking bans. The agency plans to release a guidance document on asthma-safer cleaning for schools based on several successful pilot
projects. However, despite several attempts to adopt such legislation, California
still does not have a law requiring schools to use certified green cleaning products.
In 2011, four California schools – out of 52 schools that applied in California – received a Green Ribbon Schools Award from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the program’s inaugural year, highlighting their exemplary environmental and health practices. All winning schools use Green Seal or EcoLogo cleaning products, have an IAQ Plan consistent with Tools for Schools, and follow Integrated Pest Management practices.
Read the full report here.
Fortunately, your child's environmental conditions can be improved; for example, schools can adopt best practices to reduce asthma rates by nearly 40% and upper respiratory infections by 70%!
Take Action! Support the Coalition for Healthier Schools and sign on to the letter to Congress here.