The Healthy Schools Act is found in Education Code Sections 17608 – 17614 (the “Act”). Adopted in 2000, its purpose is to provide for the least toxic pest control management around “schoolsites.” However, although found in the Education Code, the definition of “schoolsites” is very broad and applies to a range of public child care facilities that may be operated by agencies other than school districts, including park and recreation districts. The Act also applies when a public agency is the owner of a facility that houses a childcare facility.
The Act requires the following: a) notification to the childcare facility when an owner or an owner’s agent is going to apply pesticides in or around a schoolsite; b) restrictions on the type of pesticides which may be used and identification of those which are “exempt” (such as ant traps); c) retention of records regarding the pesticides applied, including location and amount; d) an annual statement to parents of pesticides used and posting of warnings at childcare facilities; d) training requirements for pesticide contractors who serve schoolsites. In general, these regulations do not apply to emergency use of pesticides.
Definitions under the Act
A “schoolsite” as defined in the Healthy Schools Act (Education Code Section 17609) includes a day care facility and further includes the buildings, playgrounds, athletic fields, vehicles, or any other area of property visited or used by pupils. A schoolsite does not include a private kindergarten, elementary or secondary school, however.
“Child day care facility” means a facility that provides nonmedical care to children under 18 years of age in need of personal services, supervision, or assistance essential for sustaining the activities of daily living or for the protection of the individual on less than a 24-hour basis. Child day care facility includes day care centers, employer-sponsored childcare centers, and family day care homes. (See Health & Safety Code Section 1596.750).
“Day care center” means any child day care facility other than a family day care home, and includes infant centers, preschools, extended day care facilities, and school age childcare centers.
Responsibilities of Site Owners
The property owner, or the agent of the property owner of the facility where the childcare facility is located must give notice to the childcare facility if the owner personally is going to apply pesticides. If the public agency owns or operates the facility, an entity would not be required to notify itself. However, if the public agency has been notified of the presence of a childcare facility at its facility, notice is required. (See Education Code Section 17610).
Type of pesticides
The types of pesticides that may be used are listed in Education Code Section 17610.1. The type is relevant because some pesticides are prohibited (such as those not registered or with new ingredients) and the type and amount of pesticide is subject to disclosure to parents and warning signs.
However, disclosure and warning signs are not required for a pesticide product deployed in the form of a self-contained bait or trap, to gel or paste deployed as a crack and crevice treatment, to any pesticide exempted from regulation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. Sec. 136 et seq.), or to antimicrobial pesticides, including sanitizers and disinfectants (See Education Code Section 17610.5).
The schoolsite must keep records of the type and amount of all pesticides (including those for baits or trap listed above) for four years. If there has been use of a pesticide which is not a bait or trap (as listed above) then each year it has to report what was used and the amounts to the Department of Pesticide Regulation using a statutory form. The schoolsite may designate an employee who is trained to meet the requirements of the Act for reporting and notice purposes, the “school designee.”
The school site also may develop an integrated pest management plan for the District childcare facilities and post it on the website, but that is not required.
Notice to Staff and Parents
The annual notice is not applicable for those pesticides such as baits and traps listed above. Otherwise, annually, there has to be a written notice from the schoolsite to all staff and parents of those enrolled at the childcare facility that contains: a) the name of the pesticides used or to be used during the upcoming year; The school designee annually shall provide to all staff and parents or guardians of pupils enrolled at a schoolsite a written notification of the name of all pesticide products expected to be applied at the schoolsite during the upcoming year; b) the active ingredient in that product; c) the internet address for information on pesticides and pesticide use reduction developed by the Department of Pesticide Regulation and for any integrated pest management; d) the opportunity for staff or parents to register to receive notification of individual pesticide applications at least 72 hours before the application as well as the product name, the active ingredient, and the intended date of application.
If a pesticide is not included in the annual notice, but is going to be used and is not “exempt,” the schoolsite would have to give the 72-hour notification to all parents and staff before its use.
Posting Warning Signs
Warning signs are not required for those pesticides such as baits and traps listed above.
Otherwise, each area of the childcare facility where pesticides will be applied must be posted with a warning sign. The warning sign must say “Warning/Pesticide Treated Area” and must include the product name, manufacturer’s name, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s product registration number, intended date and areas of application, and reason for the pesticide application. The warning sign must be visible to all persons entering the treated area and shall be posted 24 hours before the application and remain posted until 72 hours after the application. In case of a pest control emergency, the warning sign shall be posted immediately upon application and shall remain posted until 72 hours after the application.
Requirements for Pesticide Contractors
These requirements apply no matter what type of pesticide is used. Annual training is required for a school designee whom himself or herself will apply pesticides. Otherwise, pesticide contractors must be trained under the provisions of Education Code Section 17612, which are in addition to those required for a pest control license and which require completion of a one-hour training course during each licensing period regarding integrated pest management, the safe use of pesticides at schoolsites and the relationship of pesticide application to children’s health. The Department of Pesticide Regulation shall approve the course.