In the first part of this three-part series, we discussed bullying and school violence. In this article, we’ll delve into the safety issues related to school bus safety and unsafe school buildings.
While watching a bunch of kids climbing onto a big yellow bus is certainly cute, the school buses used in school districts around the country do pose hazards to your children that you should be aware of.
Many school buses run on diesel so they emit toxic emissions. These toxic emissions can cause and exacerbate many health conditions in children such as asthma. Most busses do not have the safety features that are required in family automobiles and other vehicles such as seat belts.
An overwhelming number of school buildings are in disrepair. This is particularly true in rural and urban areas with a lower-income population. Students attend school in aging buildings that have foundation issues, cracked or broken windows, plumbing problems, and roof leaks. Unfortunately you see this affecting the same population of students that are not getting the same quality of education – rural and disadvantaged students.
Students in many districts deal with extreme temperatures because of faulty heating and cooling systems or the lack thereof.
Students must sit through class in very cold temperatures as aging boilers do not provide adequate heat during the coldest winter months. They also sit through classes in very hot temperatures during late summer because the school buildings lack air conditioning.
Many school buildings are have poor ventilation systems. Poor ventilation can lead to diminished indoor air quality including higher levels of airborne particulates and carbon dioxide. It can increase the chances of catching communicable diseases cause by airborne viruses and bacteria.
Drinking water has become a huge topic of interest in recent years as more districts are discovering how unsafe their water is. Many schools have drinking water with high amounts of heavy metals like lead and copper, while others have toxic levels of PFAS.
Many outdated school buildings make security a large problem. From having dark, secluded hallways, with limited to no visibility to having entrances that make it difficult to keep unwanted visitors out, older buildings make it next to impossible to keep children safe. While they can be retrofitted with modern security features, many districts simply can’t afford to do it. These districts tend to be those in rural and disadvantaged areas.
The goal of the current administration is to address many of these safety and security issues. Recent legislation under the Biden administration is directing new funding to help solve this crisis. It remains to be seen if the money is actually allocated to the school districts that need it most and that it is used for the intended purpose of protecting students by updating the infrastructure that is the foundation of brick and mortar schools.