We created the Philly Healthy Schools Initiative to do just that: we’ve brought together parents, teachers and principals, students and community members, and public health experts from Philadelphia and around the country to develop a plan to address the environmental health threats found in our school buildings. Our plan includes:
• Improving the Public’s Right to Know: parents, teachers and community members must have access to environmental health data being collected by school district officials—but that’s not shared with the public.
• Establish “the ABCs” for buildings: We must set “Adequate Building Conditions”—the minimally acceptable environmental health standards that should be met by all of our schools buildings.
• Address the most critical environmental health threats in our schools: and develop an action plan to remediate them in the fastest way possible.
• Develop a “Master Plan” for our schools: most large school districts across the country have a Facilities Master Plan to prioritize and ensure schools are healthy and safe, but the Philadelphia School district does not. We need to change this.
• Create a Healthy Schools Task Force: Parents, students, teachers, unions, and other community stakeholders must have a process to provide input and environmental health recommendations, and help develop the Facilities Master Plan.
• Increase funding: Our schools must be properly funded to finance these and other critical challenges facing our school buildings.