The following blog is by Will Adams, legislative intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.
Earlier this month, hundreds of people around the country participated in the 12th annual National Healthy Schools Day to raise awareness about the need for clean and healthy learning environments for our children. The resounding “call to action” that linked participants together was support for Indoor Air and Environmental Quality programs that could be implemented in schools across the nation. This effort comes in the face of a growing trend we can't ignore: asthma and other respiratory conditions are some of the leading causes of missed school days for America's children, and these illnesses are only being made worse by deteriorating air quality due to climate change.
This year, in 40 Healthy Schools Day events all over the country, school officials, teachers, students, facilities staff, communities and NGOs were encouraged to bring their voices together to raise awareness about the growing issue of our nation’s failing school infrastructure and its effects on children and school personnel.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, American infrastructure received an overall “D+” in 2013 and an even lower “D” specifically for schools. As our school facilities continue to age and fall further into disrepair, we will be faced with ever-increasing health and safety risks for the 20 percent of Americans who spend their days in a school facility.
These dangers are amplified when looking at how some of our schools stood up against recent natural disasters. We’ve already seen increased reports of asthma and other respiratory illnesses in children with preexisting conditions who occupied buildings damaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Superstorm Sandy, for example.
Nationally, asthma accounts for approximately 14 million missed schools days a year, and this number will likely only increase if no action is taken. Now is the time to ensure the wellbeing of our students and faculty to protect them against the dangerous and potentially life-long effects of climate change. One of the biggest threats to our children’s education is absenteeism from school.
Nationally, asthma accounts for approximately 14 million missed schools days a year.
Additionally, the BlueGreen Alliance has added its voice to the call for safe and healthy learning spaces for all children in America. Read our Repair America’s Schools statement, which highlights the vital role schools play as components of our everyday infrastructure. This effort is part of the broader Repair America campaign that is aimed at fixing America’s failing infrastructure and better preparing our communities for the effects of climate change. A solid infrastructure is at the root of any healthy and productive environment—especially the learning environment.