Editorial: California needs to protect schoolchildren from extreme heat
State legislators this year introduced half a dozen bills focused on extreme heat in schools, and a few are still in play as the legislative session draws to a close. They are relatively modest measures, but they’re a start.
One bill, AB 384, would require the state Department of Education to come up with recommendations for maximum indoor air temperatures in public schools and conduct an inventory of their heating and cooling systems. SB 515 would cut red tape for the installation of shade structures on school campuses, simple cooling projects that under current law can be subject to unnecessary costs and delays.
Another one, AB 1653, would require the development of heat illness prevention standards for school athletics programs — including using more sophisticated wet bulb globe temperature readings to determine when it’s unsafe to practice or play and making cold water immersion baths available to treat athletes suffering heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Average temperatures in L.A. County have already increased by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since many of its aging school campuses were built decades ago. Much of the school landscape, from the buildings to the asphalt-dominated play areas that surround them, was designed for a climate that just doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, it is only getting hotter, as humans continue to burn fossil fuels and spew greenhouse gas pollution.