Air Quality Flag Program

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Connecticut School Flag Program

A collaboration of the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and CT Green LEAF Schools, the School Flag Program helps schools to highlight the importance of good air quality and to educate the school community about the Air Quality Index (AQI) and its implications for student activities each day. The program includes posting the AQI Widget on the school website, flying the appropriately colored flag for the day (based on the AQI), and providing information to the school community through newsletter postings, messaging, and other routes.

Getting Started at Your School

 

Connecticut Letter of Commitment We have a limited number of free flags—school agreement letter of commitment to get a set for your school.

Register your school as part of the national network.  Click here to go to the AirNow registration page.

Program Coordinator’s Handbook. Download the 14 page overview, process and resource guide from EPA.

Template letter to the school community

Get the Widget!  How to post the widget on your website, and other Apps link to get information daily. See the widget below. The App can be uploaded to provide daily notices to your phone or email.

 

Click Refresh on your page if you wish to return to the original view of this widget.

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Tools and Resources

 

Toolkit. 195 pages from EPA and AirNow with lessons and activities for grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. Download all or in parts.

School Flag Resources List — Where to find information about the Connecticut program, Connecticut links, other select curriculum ideas. Created for the April 20, 2015 Program Workshop.

Air Quality Power Points from the April 20, 2015 workshop from Michele Chaffee, DEEP

Learn about Air Quality Basics. AirNow’s AQI basics information and links.

AQI and Outdoor Activity Guidance for Schools poster pdf download Has the image below with FAQs on the reverse side.

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Air Quality FAQs

How long can students stay outside when the air quality is unhealthy? There is no exact amount of time. The worse the air quality, the more important it is to take breaks, do less intense activities, and watch for symptoms. Remember that students with asthma will be more sensitive to unhealthy air. Why should students take breaks and do less intense activities when air quality is unhealthy? Students breathe harder when they are active for a longer period of time or when they do more intense activities. More pollution enters the lungs when a person is breathing harder. It helps to:

    • reduce the amount of time students are breathing hard (e.g., take breaks; rotate players frequently)
    • reduce the intensity of activities so students are not breathing so hard (e.g., walk instead of run)

Are there times when air pollution is expected to be worse?

Ozone pollution is often worse on hot sunny days, especially during the afternoon and early evening. Plan outdoor activities in the morning, when air quality is better and it is not as hot.

Particle pollution can be high any time of day. Since vehicle exhaust contains particle pollution, limit activity near idling cars and buses and near busy roads, especially during rush hours. Also, limit outdoor activity when there is smoke in the air.

How can I find out the daily air quality? Go to www.airnow.gov. Many cities have an Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast that tells you what the local air quality will be later today or tomorrow, and a current AQI that tells you what the local air quality is now. The AirNow website also tells you whether the pollutant of concern is ozone or particle pollution. Sign up for emails, download the free AirNow app, or install the free AirNow widget on your website. You can also find out how to participate (and register your school) in the School Flag Program (www.airnow.gov/schoolflag). If students stay inside because of unhealthy outdoor air quality, can they still be active? It depends on which pollutant is causing the problem:

Ozone pollution:  If windows are closed, the amount of ozone should be much lower indoors, so it is OK to keep students moving.

Particle pollution:  If the building has a forced air heating or cooling system that filters out particles then the amount of particle pollution should be lower indoors, and it is OK to keep students moving. It is important that the particle filtration system is installed properly and well maintained.

What physical activities can students do inside? Encourage indoor activities that keep all students moving. Plan activities that include aerobic exercise as well as muscle and bone strengthening components (e.g., jumping, skipping, sit-ups, pushups). If a gymnasium or open space is accessible, promote activities that use equipment, such as cones, hula hoops, and sports balls. If restricted to the classroom, encourage students to come up with fun ways to get everyone moving (e.g., act out action words from a story). Teachers and recess supervisors can work with PE teachers to identify additional indoor activities. What is an asthma action plan? An asthma action plan is a written plan developed with a student’s doctor for daily management of asthma. It includes medication plans, control of triggers, and how to recognize and manage worsening asthma symptoms. See www.cdc.gov/asthma/actionplan.html for a link to sample asthma action plans. When asthma is well managed and well controlled, students should be able to participate fully in all activities. For a booklet on “Asthma and Physical Activity in the School,” see http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/resources/lung/asthma-physical-activity.htm.

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