This Tuesday April 4th, we will kick-off a weeklong celebration of National Healthy Schools Day. This is the 15th National Healthy Schools Day which will educate kids across the state and the nation with activities focusing on healthy indoor air quality and safer, less-toxic chemical use. I recently sponsored and passed HJR0090 in the Legislature, a resolution that commemorates this special awareness week again this year.
Despite federal and state budget cuts and heavy pressures on our schoools, National Healthy Schools Day partners and participants are voicing their awareness and appreciation for the special training and work it takes to create and sustain healthy learning environments in every school for every child. Across the US, there are 130,000 public and private K-12 schools enrolling some 55 million children and employing about 7 million adults. In all, about 20% of the total US population is in school every day.
Governmental agencies report that half of all schools have problems with indoor pollution, complex problems attributable to various sources, such as poor engineering, leaky roofs, deferred maintenance and repairs, and the use of toxic products indoors and out when students are present. Other issues include classes not being free of chemical fumes after maintenance works and repairs in schools when students are let back into classes, tight sealed High Performance Buildings which cannot open windows, overcrowding in classes/schools and poor ventilation.
Polluted indoor environments are already contributing to health and attendance problems. Specifically they contribute to rising asthma cases, asthma hospitalizations during the school year and other health issues, such as problems concentrating, headaches, as well as cancer and other long-term diseases.
National Healthy Schools Day reminds us that parents and teachers, school officials, legislators and governmental agencies need to be partners in making sure all students have the safe and healthy schools they deserve and need. Children depend on all of us. Please join me in making this day and week a great success.