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Effort for better air quality in CT schools gets bipartisan support

Foto de un salón de clases vacío tomada en la Academia de Comunicaciones Globales.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Foto de un salón de clases vacío tomada en la Academia de Comunicaciones Globales.

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Bad air quality in schools is one of the top environmental public health risks in the U.S. and a state working group is pushing for passage of a bill this legislative session to continue addressing the issue in Connecticut.

The proposal would require that at least 20% of school districts be inspected every year, until all buildings have been evaluated. If approved, the bill would also extend the working group until 2030.

“These assessments and the focus on indoor air quality needs to happen statewide and all the schools that we have,” Sen. Julie Kushner, a Democrat from Danbury, and co-chair of the School Indoor Air Quality Working Group said.

Poor air quality and ventilation has been found to impede learning and harm health. According to Kushner, issues with indoor air quality aren't in any one district, it’s throughout the state.

It is not an easy issue to solve since the state has many older or unmaintained school buildings, she said.

Members of the working group spoke at a press conference Tuesday to mark National Healthy Schools Day.

“This is not a bill about air conditioning,” said Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, a Republican representing Newtown. “This is a bill about air quality, and the results of bad air quality on human beings.”

“Because of the funds from the Governor, we have invested nearly $200 million over the past two years into mechanical means of fresh air — HVAC and system level fixes — to our school buildings, to ensure they will have clean and healthy air, which not only is good for health, of course, but also better for learning,” said working group co-chair Rep. Jennifer Leeper, a Democrat from Fairfield County.

The proposal had unanimous committee approval and is waiting to be taken up in the Senate before advancing.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.

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