By: Staff Writer Rishab Ramapriyan
Recent amendments to the California Healthy Schools Act (HSA) have officially taken effect this year after an expansion of the bill was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Originally passed in 2000, the law aimed to inform parents about the pesticides being applied at public K-12 schools and licensed child-care centers. The new amendment aims to expand the scope of information for parents and educate school staffs on less-toxic pest control measure. Pesticides are used for weed control on the fields and pest control in cafeterias and classrooms.
The emphasis on less pesticide use aims to reduce the risk of students being exposed to pesticides. Other methods such as prevention, sanitation, and monitoring are preferable to the use of toxic chemicals. The changes, which are now in effect as of this year, can be split into three main components: Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plans, pesticide use reports, and annual training for supervisors.
New IPM plans will be accessible to parents and staff annually to inform them of what pesticides will be used at the school site during the upcoming year. In past years, pest management companies were only required to submit this report to the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). Under the newly amended law, school officials and other staff are required to report type of pesticide, date and time of use, and location of use.
Another component of the new law is that anyone who applies any pesticide at a school or childcare center must first complete DPR-approved pesticide use training. This will only be effective starting in July 2016. School officials as well as hired pesticide applicators will have to complete this training. The DPR has had these workshops since 2002 and several school districts in California have already implemented a successful IPM plan.
Prevention is a key component of the IPM plan. If schools are periodically cleaning and monitoring for pests, there is no need to purchase pesticides. Also school officials are encouraged to use non-chemical methods of pesticide prevention. The Los Angeles Unified School district was honored with DPR’s first IPM innovator awards. Their policies and procedures manual is available online to serve as guidance for other schools. FUSD does not foresee any changes to its pesticide protocol, as annual IPM plans and pesticide plans are already being completed. Many other schools in California will have to make the necessary changes.
The implementation of the new HSA aims to reduce pesticide exposure by requiring schools to follow approved plans and employers who apply pesticides to undergo training.
Photo Credits: osse.dc.gov