Protecting Children's Environmental Health While Re-opening Schools: Recommendations from the Healthy Schools Network

October 28, 2020
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Healthy Babies, Bright Futures – a new alliance of scientists, non-profit organizations and donors who share the goal of reducing babies’ exposure to toxic chemicals during the most vulnerable and significant periods of development: in utero and from birth to age two

Children's Environmental Health Network – Since 1992 CEHN has been raising awareness, advocating for evidence-based child-protective policy, supporting preventive research, and providing education and training on children’s environmental health protection – https://cehn.org/resources/for-parents-families-and-other-child-health-advocates/childrens-environmental-health-101/ 

Listen to recording.

Join us on October 28th, for the next CHE-Alaska webinar when we will be joined by Claire Barnett, founder and executive director of the Healthy Schools Network, to discuss environmental health and justice aspects of school re-opening across the US. Children are especially vulnerable to chemical exposures and adverse health outcomes from exposures to contaminants, breathing more air, ingesting more food, and having a greater surface area relative to their body mass and volume. A child’s growth and development makes them more susceptible to toxic chemicals (e.g. lead in drinking water harming brain development), and their unique behavior can bring them into more prolonged contact with toxic chemicals in the indoor environment of homes and schools, as well as playgrounds, parks, and lawns where they play outdoors.  

With our children’s health in mind, it is important to carefully consider how to safely open and operate schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Updating cleaning protocols to use least toxic disinfectants, reconsidering integrative pest management (IPM), and improving and maintaining ventilation systems are just some of the steps included in comprehensive plans for improving the health of our nation’s schools. This is especially important to consider for under-funded schools where children, teachers, and staff would be disproportionately affected by re-opening of the facilities without other modifications.   

This is not just an issue for children. Twenty percent of the US population enters a school during a typical weekday, and the same protocols should also have the health of teachers, staff, families, and the surrounding community in mind. Opening schools during a pandemic can put a significant portion of our population at risk, so a well-researched and thoughtful plan is needed.   

The Healthy Schools Network has grown to be ‘the nation’s premier voice for children’s environmental health at school, and we hope you can join our conversation.

Featured Speaker

Claire L. Barnett, MBA, Founder and Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, Inc. and Coordinator, national Coalition for Healthier Schools. The Healthy Schools Network has challenged the nation with a call to action to ensure that schools are environmentally responsible to all children, to personnel, and to communities. As a child health advocate, Barnett convened the fledgling Network in 1995 as a New York statewide coalition; it has since shaped and won new funds and multiple laws on school environments in the nation’s third largest educational system (NYS) and the nation’s single largest school district (NYC) as well as federally, and fostered state and regional reform coalitions.

This call will be hosted by the CHE-Alaska Partnership, which is coordinated by Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT). It will last for 60 minutes and will be recorded for the call and webinar archive.