December 2010 Issue
November 19, 2010

Short takes: Is your classroom safe?

Source: NYSUT United

Is your classroom safe?

How can you improve the indoor air quality at your school?

What about pollution from school buses? How can you learn about drinking water safety in schools?

What can you do at school to reduce climate change? What about pesticides, cleaning products and chemicals in schools?

How can you help reduce storm water runoff from schools and protect downstream waters?

To learn more about these and other health-related issues, visit This Environmental Protection Agency site is devoted to taking a more active role in the school environment in which you work.

Ready, set, go!

The American Public Health Association has developed a program for individuals to help their community, campus or workplace become prepared for emergencies such as pandemic flu, infectious disease or natural disasters by holding what's known as a "Get Ready Day" event.

This campaign provides free educational materials, and includes a new tool for health workers to use when teaching about preparedness.

A Get Ready video on the importance of preparedness in the community is also available.

Visit for fact sheets and question and answer links on safety topics.

Prevent distracted driving

To assist schools in communicating to students the dangers of distracted driving and in formulating policies on the use of mobile electronic devices, the U.S. Department of Transportation has posted free resources at

The theme of the 2010 DSWW campaign is "Focus. Safe driving is serious business." The materials emphasize the dangers of distracted driving, particularly the use of cell phones and texting while driving. 

Lighten the load

If students seem to be sagging under the weight of their backpacks, it's probably because they're carrying too much.

Children should carry no more than 10 percent to 15 percent of their body weight — that's a maximum 7.5 pounds for a 50-pound child or 22.5 pounds for a 150-pound student.

Lightweight backpacks are best, especially those with two wide shoulder straps. Using both straps, rather than slinging the pack across one shoulder, evenly distributes the weight and lessens the risk of neck and shoulder injuries and pain.

Holocaust program set

Secondary teachers who teach the Holocaust can take part in a Summer Seminar Program on the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance, to be held July 6–25.

Seminar participants study in Israel, Germany, Poland and at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

The $3,000 cost covers travel from Washington, D.C., hotels, bus transportation and two meals daily. The program is sponsored in part by the American Federation of Teachers.

You can go to, call 212-477-0707 or e-mail for an application and information. Applications are also available at Applications must be received by March 28.