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Thousand Oaks Acorn: Schools Required to Have Pest Management Plans

1/15/2015

Changes are coming to the Healthy Schools Act, a California law that gives parents the right to know what types of pesticides are being used around their children.

As of Jan. 1, public K-12 schools and licensed child care centers will be required to develop integrated pest management plans and send pesticide use reports to the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

According to Laura van der Meer, spokesperson for the department, the changes to the HSA expand the scope of information for parents and aim to minimize pesticide use by educating school staffs on the least-toxic ways to control pests.

“It provides better transparency for parents and staff about the pesticide use plan,” van der Meer said. “Having data from both employees and contractors will allow DPR to evaluate pesticide use at schools and child care centers in the future and can guide DPR’s training programs.”

The law will require those applying pesticides — including school and child care staff and hired pest controllers — to undergo annual training to ensure they are familiar with the management plan’s principles and requirements, as well as how to safely use the chemicals on campuses.

The annual training aspect of the law will go into effect July 1, 2016.

The pest management plans call for good use of sanitation, pest exclusion tactics, the use of pesticides only after other methods have failed and using the least-hazardous pesticides first.

Stan Mantooth, Ventura County superintendent of schools, said schools within the county weren’t sending pesticide use reports to Sacramento before the new law because it wasn’t required but did keep records available if needed.

“I think it’s another level of insurance that we’re practicing with the programs,” he said. “This just creates another incentive to make sure (reports are) being done.”

According to Mantooth, applicators within the county were already receiving training, but it wasn’t standardized.

“I think the law will help make sure everyone is using the same practices to ensure the safety of kids,” he said.

The new guideline comes via Senate Bill 1405, which goes into effect this month for 10,000 schools and more than 14,500 child care centers in California.

Before the changes, the law required only that pest management companies that apply pesticides at schools and child care centers report use to the DPR. Now, anyone who applies pesticides—including school district and child care staffers— will need to report the pesticides used, the time of application, and the location and quantity of the product.

Pesticides may be used on school campuses to get rid of cafeteria cockroaches, gophers on the gridiron and weeds on landscapes and playing fields.
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