Thanks to your advocacy and attention, HB 60 didn’t make it to the floor for a vote. If you need a direct example of how your voice makes a difference, this bill is just that. However, this bill and recent discussion around the return to school for students has created a moment for discussion – safe return to schools. What does a safe return look like?
Recently a coalition of metro teachers gathered to discuss this. Embedded in the conversation about concerns regarding the pandemic and transmission rates in various counties, number of students per room, following CDC guidelines, and more was the very real concern about air circulation and air quality. Some teachers returned to the classroom in Dekalb, and found their heating systems didn’t work (it was 32 degrees the first morning and quite cold the rest of the week), When they began to investigate they discovered dirty filters as well as mold and mildew in vents. Sadly, most filters are not up to the standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency that has offered webinars and a full set of guidelines to educational institutions. Schools however, have not been fully funded for quite a few years which means they must cut corners – maintenance is often the corner that is cut. In this case, that corner is air-quality for our children, teachers, and staff. Even without a highly transmissible virus like COVID-19, how many children in Georgia are affected by asthma? According to the Georgia Department of Health, nearly 9 percent of Georgia’s children have asthma, and many more are undiagnosed. Dirty heating units and filters are a major health hazard to people with asthma.
Your call to action today, is to plan to attend a discussion this evening with a coalition of advocacy groups who have some ideas about safe return to schools, no matter your zip code: sign up at this link for the discussion with Fund Georgia’s Future and follow them for more information and actions to take during the legislative session. HB 60 may not be on the table any longer, but funding cuts are likely hidden in the state budget proposal. We can’t afford more cuts to education.
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