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Los Angeles Unified Statement on Excessive Heat Temperatures and Extensive Mitigation Efforts (09-06-22)

CONTACT: Shannon Haber

September 6, 2022

Los Angeles Unified Statement on Excessive Heat Temperatures and Extensive Mitigation Efforts 

Los Angeles, CA (September 6, 2022) – As the heat wave continues to grip California, Los Angeles Unified remains a leader on heat mitigation at schools.  

This is an all-hands-on-deck effort. We appreciate the advocacy and partnership by community organizations, and we encourage our local, state and federal elected officials to prioritize greening infrastructure investments in schools and our communities, and develop climate change solutions for California and beyond.

The recent extreme heat wave highlights the importance of the investments Los Angeles Unified is making for the long-term. The District has and continues to prioritize the upgrade and replacement of Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems (HVAC) and investments in creating outdoor learning spaces and sustainable features. We have invested more than $1 billion in new HVAC systems over the past two decades and continue to identify new projects. Additionally, through our bond program, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in creating green spaces with sustainable features, including $4 million in approximately 70 Sustainable Environment Enhancing Developments for Schools (SEEDS) projects throughout the District. 

Over the last several years the Board of Education has adopted a number of resolutions in support of climate literacy, greening and outdoor education and renewable/sustainable efforts including: 

  • Climate Literacy Resolution (Res-016-21/22) in February 2022
  • Fully Funding Access to Immersive, Outdoor Learning Opportunities (Res-019-21/22) in April 2021
  • Creating New School Gardens and Campus and Community-Shared Green Spaces to Provide Outdoor Learning Opportunities and Create Sustainable and Healthy Environments (Res-042-19/20) in February 2021
  • Transitioning Los Angeles Unified School District to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy Resulting in Healthier Students and More Sustainable, Equitable Communities (Res- 018-19/20) in December 2019

Los Angeles Unified is developing safe and sustainable green spaces, outdoor learning environments and shaded areas at each school.

  • Los Angeles Unified is working to accelerate campus greening for students who lack access to the benefits of green spaces. To ensure this is accomplished equitably, we developed a first-ever Greening Index that assigns a “green score” to help identify which schools are most in need of greening resources. 

  • The District is identifying $50 million in projects to create outdoor learning spaces with landscaping and greening upgrades and remove relocatable classroom buildings that are no longer needed.

  • $5 million is available for new SEEDS projects. 

  • An additional $50,000 is being made available for SEEDS projects at schools ranked in the top 150 of the Greening Index. The current SEEDS program provides up to $100,000 in bond funding to support projects identified through proposals submitted by schools and/or partners. 

  • Collaborate with non-profits, grant organizations and public agencies to strategically pursue grants and other third-party funding for projects at schools with the greatest greening need. An exemplary partnership with the L.A. Neighborhood Land Trust, California Natural Resources Agency, Kaiser Permanente and NBA Cares resulted in the greening of Esperanza Elementary School with outdoor classrooms, shade trees, a native habitat garden and more.

  • Conduct outreach and engagement activities at schools to recruit participants in energy-efficiency education and awareness programs, including HEROES for Zero, a contest that challenges K-12 student-led teams to help make their schools “Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Ready” by reducing energy consumption, maximizing energy efficiency and educating fellow students and staff. Teams can win up to $25,000 for sustainability projects for their schools from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). We have partnered with LADWP to raise energy and water efficiency at schools and will continue to explore new incentive programs at schools with high greening index scores.

Los Angeles Unified is prioritizing partnerships that will result in greening projects.

  • Renovations removed 10,000 square feet of asphalt.

  • The school's new garden of California-native plants allows students to study plants, insects and birds.

  • Such projects aim to boost the mental and physical health of students as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Los Angeles Unified is also upgrading the school bus fleet – all equipped with wifi – with 11 new electric buses and 30 more to come. No emissions, no noise, great for kids, great for the workforce and amazing for the environment.

Los Angeles Unified unveiled the nation’s largest school-based air monitoring network that provides an important tool to monitor air quality throughout the District, allowing us to proactively ensure student safety. The Know Your Air Network provides real-time data in each school community. Sensors have been installed at 200 schools and strategically placed so that every school is within 1.6 miles of a monitor. The sensors are used to monitor poor air quality events such as wildfires and smog to inform decisions about modifying school activities with a focus on student health and safety. 

Los Angeles Unified will continue to prioritize greening and environmental strategy and provide supervision and leadership in this area at the highest level of the organization. 

On very hot, humid days, school administrators and employees must pay attention to weather conditions and use common sense and good judgment. The heat mitigation measures include:

  • Keeping doors and windows closed in air conditioned rooms.

  • Reporting HVAC equipment malfunctions.

  • Using air conditioned rooms as classrooms when possible.

  • Considering moving students to cooler rooms or other appropriate areas.

  • Encouraging students to drink water.

  • Observing students during physical activity periods and modify and/or limit activities as necessary.

  • Adjusting programs to use cooler early hours for physical activity.

  • Limiting the use of asphalt, concrete, playground equipment and artificial turf surfaces to cooler early hours if these surfaces are too hot.

  • Establishing a “cool room” for use by students showing early signs of heat stress.

Los Angeles Unified continually reminds families on important heat safety measures including:

  • Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration, and bring liquids and snacks as appropriate. Water containers should not be shared between students and students may not consume food or drink while riding District buses.

  • Wear comfortable clothing that is breathable, light colored, lightweight and loose.

  • Apply sunscreen and wear proper clothing and hats to prevent sunburn.

  • If your student has any underlying health conditions exacerbated by heat, inform the school nurse or classroom teacher.

  • Symptoms of heat related illness, such as fatigue, fainting, dehydration, thirst or muscle cramps, should be reported to a coach or teacher immediately.

Los Angeles Unified has modified athletic activities during the heat wave. Heat mitigation measures include:

  • Postponing athletic competitions to a later time in the day, whenever possible.

  • Making accommodations to reduce heat stress, when the heat index reaches 91° to 102°.

  • Canceling school and activities when the heat index reaches 103° or higher.

  • Moving students into a cooler facility or postponing competition or practice, when gyms without air conditioning exceed 91°.

  • Advising football players to remove helmets when on the sidelines and helmets and shoulder pads during halftime.

  • Providing adequate water and encouraging students to drink water.

Los Angeles Unified takes these heat mitigation matters very seriously. The well-being of every school community remain our top priority and we will continue to keep everyone safe.

For the most up-to-date information, please follow Los Angeles Unified on Twitter at @laschools and @lausdsup, Instagram at @laschools and @lausdsup and Facebook at @laschools and @AlbertoMCarvalho1.