August 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to the electronic newsletter for Canadians for a Safe Learning Environment (CASLE).
CASLE is a registered charity working to improve the condition of school buildings and the products and practices used in schools, so that students and staff have safe and healthy places to spend their days.
School opens soon!

Do you know how to help the school board and staff to make sure schools are healthy on day one of classes?  If you notice a problem, let the principal know and possibly the JOHSC, depending on what you are noticing.

1. Working within Labour Law:  Section 13 of the NS Occupational Health and Safety Act is a provision which allows for protection of non-staff occupants or even visitors to buildings. As well, the NS Labour department allows non-staff (such as parents or community members) to serve on JOHSCs if: 1) they are voted on by both the employee and employer sections of the committee, and 2) if they sit with the administration portion. (This is so that no seats are taken away from employee members for whom the committees exist to protect primarily.) It has been found in the 15 years that this provision has been allowed, that schools with parent or community members tend to deal with their issues well and without the Labour department having to be called in.

2. Successful Scent-Free Programs: Here is a new article written with tips from several school principals whose schools have successful Scent-Free programs:

3. Renovations? Was your school renovated this summer?  Are fumes from materials gone now? Have the dust and debris been cleaned up? Was the ventilation running over the summer to help prevent indoor mould growth from summer’s moist air?

4. Cleaning materials: Be sure the cleaning materials used are least toxic possible. Make sure staff do not bring more toxic ones from home.

5. Here are two tips from our US counterparts, Healthy Schools Network: “Visit your child’s school before the first day, or visit now if your child is coming home with new health symptoms like coughs, headaches or trouble breathing. First, clean has no odor; if you see or smell new construction or harsh cleaning products, say something; if you see or smell molds or dampness, say something. Follow up the same day with a short email to the Principal.”
  “And kudos to US EPA.  EPA has introduced a mobile app designed to assess the indoor air quality at schools and provides access to their Indoor Air Tools for Schools Action Kit. The tool will help identify and prioritize IAQ improvements district wide. (US EPA) ”

See CASLE’s new website for the Canadian version of the Tools for Schools Kit, and for more on Healthy Schools.

Here’s to a happy and productive school year!