Local schools enroll to fly flags color coordinated with air quality index

Local schools flying air quality color flags

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Up on Bakersfield City School District flagpoles, you'll find a flag representing the nation, state and air quality.

"Every morning we send out an alert based on the San Joaquin Valley Air District Program's air quality for the day and that notifies all the school sites," said BCSD health coordinator Debbie Woods.

The schools then fly flags on their flagpole, color coordinated to match the air quality index. Green for good air quality. Yellow for moderate air quality. Orange indicates unhealthy for sensitive groups and red for bad air quality.

"Based on the air quality children who have asthma or other health conditions may have limited activity or kept inside based on the air quality," said Woods.

The flags notify school staff, students, parents and nearby residents.

"Hopefully that will make people more alert to do things like carpool, turn cars off while they are waiting for their children, not idling their cars, walking instead of taking their car when they can," said Woods.

It helps the environment and health of our kids.

"The purpose is to keep children healthier and not expose them to things that will make their asthma flair up," said Woods.

Currently there are about 120 schools enrolled in the program including Roosevelt school and more and more are signing up every year.

Kern Green Program Director Sasha Windes got the air quality flag program flying at Kern county's schools.

"We've got a lot of private schools signing up. Panama Buena Vista school district signed up this year," said Windes.

And for good reason.

"A lot of times the kids think they're sick and they're staying home from school which really if they just stayed indoors they wouldn't have the problems," said Windes.

Woods says the program has helped reduced absenteeism within BCSD.

"We've seen a huge difference. Ambulance calls for asthma because now they know to medicate children when its bad or keep them inside. Increased attendance," said Woods.

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