Testifying before the legislature’s Public Health Committee, CEA legal counsel Melanie Kolek talks about the explosion of illnesses and workers’ compensation cases linked to sick schools.
Classrooms were over 100 degrees. Crayons were melted, tables warped, magnets curled and fell off the boards, candies melted, floors buckled. Medical concerns when the temperature of the room was unbearable consisted of dizzy spells, headaches, blackouts, concentration issues, and difficulty breathing. Extreme temperatures caused mold to grow throughout the building, including in the HVAC systems. Teachers discovered mold behind ceiling tiles, around pipes, behind the wallpaper, on baseboards, on student shared materials, and around windows. We began to notice that many of us, including students, were having medical concerns that affected our ability to function. We are concerned that the exposure to these elements will have lifelong effects on our overall health.
Testimony from CEA’s members and legal team before the legislature’s Public Health Committee earlier this week has painted an alarming picture of classroom environments throughout the state. Dirty air vents, water intrusion, rodent droppings, and black mold have given rise to respiratory ailments, rashes, and debilitating illnesses among students and teachers.
Sharing personal accounts of the conditions in their own classrooms, teachers have been urging lawmakers this legislative session to pass House Bill 5431, An Act Concerning Indoor Air Quality in Schools. If enacted into law, it would improve environmental conditions in classrooms across the state and set minimum and maximum classroom temperatures. Read more
Mold is a serious problem in many Connecticut schools, including this one in Stamford.
Students are vomiting and complaining of headaches and feeling like they are going to pass out.
It’s too hot, it’s like teaching in a pizza oven, and our students are overheating.
Every morning, I find rodent feces in my pre-k classroom where students work and play.
There are high levels of mold in my classroom and in the building, making students and teachers sick.
Sometimes in the winter, it’s warmer outside.
These are just a few of the comments reported by teachers from across the state who responded to a new CEA survey on environmental issues in their schools. The shocking findings highlight the need to address environmental problems in Connecticut’s school buildings that jeopardize the health and safety of students and teachers.
“From Stamford to Manchester and towns in between, teachers have been reporting illnesses related to environmental problems within their schools,” says CEA President Jeff Leake. “There’s black mold, rodent droppings, extreme heat and cold temperatures, dust, asbestos, and other issues that are putting our students and teachers at risk every day.” Read more
Teachers, CEA leaders, and staff testified yesterday before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus on issues critical to teachers this legislative session. These issues included school climate, classroom safety, the persistent shortage of ethnic minority educators, and funding for public schools.
CEA members and staff, including CEA Research and Policy Development Specialist Orlando Rodriguez, CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, Westport educator Faith Sweeney, community organizer Shamare Holmes Bridgeport teacher Tiffany Ladson-Lang, and Stratford teacher Kristen Record shared CEA priorities with the legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus yesterday.
“It is vitally important that members of the caucus hear from teachers and get a clearer understanding of what’s happening every day in our schools,” says CEA Director of Government Relations Ray Rossomando. “Teachers came from every corner of the state and stayed late into the evening, on a school night, to testify before their elected officials about what matters most to their students, their profession, and the communities where they teach. That has an impact.” Read more