Back To School Day 2018: Action Toolkit

National coalition releases new action Toolkit; urges action for healthier schools for all children
By: Coalition for Healthier Schools/HS Network
ALBANY, N.Y. - Aug. 7, 2018 - PRLog -- As the nation's children head back to school, a coalition of healthy school advocates from across the country are urging parents, teachers and administrators to make sure schools are clean and healthy environments where children can learn to their maximum abilities.  Parents and teachers are concerned about the safety of the water children drink, the air they breathe, and the chemicals they come in contract with. Increasingly, families want to know that the nation's aging school infrastructure can provide an educational environment – in classrooms and schoolyards – where children can go to learn in facilities that won't make them sick.

"The safest schools are healthy schools," said Coalition for Healthier Schools Coordinator and Healthy Schools Network Founder and Executive Director Claire Barnett.  "As children across the country get ready for the new school year, the national Coalition is urging parents to join us in this fight. We are calling on the Trump Administration to include $1 for every child in public and private schools and child care facilities in the US Environmental Protection Agency's budget. That's a very affordable $65 million annually. The science is clear: the physical environment of schools impacts children's health, thinking, and learning. Thus, we also support efforts in Congress to rebuild public school infrastructure with a commitment of $100 billion."

"School business officials understand that school infrastructure issues are inextricably linked to student health, well-being, and academic success. Without safe and healthy school environments, students cannot learn. We urge local, state, and federal lawmakers to work with district leaders to invest in school infrastructure so that we can work together to repair, renovate, maintain, and construct the facilities our children need to grow and thrive," said John Musso, CAE, RSBA, Executive Director of ASBO International (Association of School Business Officials).

Other issues on the 7th Annual National Back to School Day agenda include calls for lead-free products, safer pest control, and green cleaning products.

School Supplies: Safe Shopping Guide

In conjunction with National Back to School Day, the US Public Interest Research Group (USPRIG) is releasing its Back to School Safe Shopping Guide. Cuts to school budgets increasingly resulted in parents and teachers bringing needed supplies into the classroom. Shockingly, there are still basic products on the market with the potential to harm children. "This fall, parents and teachers can use our safe shopping guide when purchasing school supplies," said Kara Cook, director of U.S. PIRG's Toxic Free Kids campaign. "We should feel safe knowing we're sending our kids off to school with supplies that don't contain asbestos or lead."

Back to School (BTS) PRESS and Toolkit Release

To help empower parents, teachers, school leaders and others to advocate for cleaner, healthier schools, the Coalition is today releasing a Back to School (BTS) Toolkit, with information and how-to guides. Among the tools available in the kit are a draft op-ed, sample social media content, as well as fact sheets and guidance on addressing lead in school water, finding lead-free computers and tablets for school use, safer pest control for schools (Integrated Pest Management), and green cleaning products.The Toolkit also contains updated information about increasing opportunities to buy other green products. Gone are the days when the cost of green products was an excuse for no action. Many state and city governments and other institutions now buy green at same or lower costs, thanks to collective purchasing agreements. Nothing prevents school districts from benefiting from these arrangements. It's time for all school leaders to take advantage of these deals.

Clean drinking water at school is one of the latest examples of growing public awareness of toxic threats in schools. More and more states are beginning to test at the tap for lead contamination in schools. For instance, starting in 2016, New York has tested every tap in every public school in the state. Under a new state law, remediation is required for all taps with lead content about an action level of 15 parts per billion. More than 11 percent of all taps tested in New York City exceeded that level, and it was higher in the rest of the state.

"The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) supports the Coalition for Healthier Schools' Back to School Action Toolkit through its Core Criteria which set robust standards for schools for indoor air quality, natural lighting, acoustics, energy efficiency, and use of clean building materials. All of these not only make our school buildings safer and healthier, but also provide beautiful, comfortable, and stimulating spaces for our children to learn and thrive."

Elisabeth Krautscheid, Managing Director, The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)

"Children and youth are 22 percent of our population, but all of our future," says Elaine Auld, MPH, MCHES, Chief Executive Officer of the Society for Public Health Education. "Back to School Day is a reminder to all school officials, teachers, parents and child health advocates that health and academic achievement go hand in hand. School health education must be prioritized as an academic subject and be fully funded at the federal, state, and local levels."

Elaine Auld, MPH, MCHES, Chief Executive Officer, Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)

Claire Barnett, Coalition Coordinator
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Tags:Children, Schools, Supplies, Nontoxic, No-lead, Green Cleaning, Rebuild Schools, Safe Pest Control
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