The L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to protect vulnerable students from extreme heat on school campuses on Tuesday.
According to a release from the office of Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, the motion, co-authored by Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, directs several county departments to convene with interested school districts and raise awareness of both federal and state funding opportunities to support climate resiliency and cooling at schools.
The motion will also provide technical assistance to school districts in heat-vulnerable areas and lead to the creation of a toolkit to provide practices and strategies on how to protect students while a long-term strategy to modernize and cool down school campuses is implemented.
And while some districts have school campuses that have already been made into cooling centers, other districts – especially smaller ones in unincorporated areas – do not have the ability to access those resources, the board said in a statement.
“Severe storms, drought and extreme temperatures have become more frequent occurrences, and hotter, longer heat waves are threatening the health and well-being of our residents,” Supervisor Solis said. “Unfortunately, children are particularly susceptible to heat stress and other heat-related illnesses, and they make up almost half of those getting sick.”
Certain schools are in some of the hottest locations in the county, Solis said, and the cooling solution may require more than just installation of air conditioning.
“Play yards dominated by asphalt increase heat risk and the lack of trees on many campuses results in fewer opportunities for cooling shade,” she said. “It’s clear many schools need to reimagine their campuses to address extreme heat.”
The high temperatures are impacting local children, especially those with underlying health conditions.
“Specifically, children with underlying conditions such as asthma, which are more common in our underserved communities due to their proximity to freeways, are at an even higher risk of experiencing severe impacts of extreme heat conditions,” the Board of Supervisors release said.
The motion’s passing comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently allocated $73 million in additional funding from Cal Fire for school districts to replace asphalt with green spaces, trees and vegetation.