The Heat Risk of Schools

Op-Ed: California makes it too hard for schools to shield kids from extreme heat. Here’s why. When it comes to school heating concerns, California is hardly alone. Nearly half of the country’s elementary and…

The Heat Risk of Schools

Op-Ed: California makes it too hard for schools to shield kids from extreme heat. Here’s why.

When it comes to school heating concerns, California is hardly alone. Nearly half of the country’s elementary and secondary school teachers and over a third of districts nationwide say they face heat-related safety issues, forcing them to take action to keep students safe. However, in comparison to other states, the air pollution that students and workers face in California is particularly dangerous.

The state has the second highest mortality rate in the country for children under 5 from asthma from ozone. The same is true for children younger than 12 years old. It is the same for workers in the state, as a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) revealed last year.

So, while our schools face the greatest heat risk, it is a much larger problem.

While not all schools face the same heat risk, districts that experience extreme heat can be a challenge, depending on what level they fall on in the heat danger scale, depending on how long the heat wave is and where it is occurring.

The problem that I personally have encountered with school districts is that they either have no heating system at all, or they have an on-campus heating system that is very inefficient and therefore very high maintenance. And, the high cost of heating in these types of schools is another problem for the district; it costs almost $500,000 to install a new heating system for a school district.

In fact, nearly half of the country’s public elementary and secondary schools have heating issues, with a third of the districts facing at least one concern. And on a national scale, that is a higher number than any other climate-related issue in the United States. The National Climate Assessment conducted by the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, issued in 2014, states that high humidity and low air pressure can cause a “severe public health impact on schoolchildren worldwide due to increased mortality, increased morbidity,

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