Raul Rodrigez and Michelle Rodrigez, students at Lynbrook Elementary, hang air quality flags as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's School Flag Program, which help teachers and students know what the air quality is expected to be daily. The school is the first in the county to adopt the program.
Lynbrook Elementary School, in partnership with TrailsforYouth.Org, is raising special, colored flags every morning to help teachers, students and members of the community be aware of daily air quality conditions. The effort is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s School Flag Program. Lynnbrook is the first public school in Fairfax County to start a new flag program to identify air quality pollution days to help students and the community to stay healthy. Lynbrook Elementary School, located in Springfield, is a title-1 school with almost 85 percent free/reduced lunch program attendees. Assistant Principal Shirley Shannon said Lynbrook works continuously to support the well being of each of its students, and the program is an extension of those efforts. Each day, the student patrols at Lynbrook will raise a flag based on the color of the Air Quality Index (AQI) to show how polluted the air is expected to be. By comparing the colored flags to the AQI, families and teachers will know whether to limit, allow or prevent outdoor exertion for "sensitive groups," defined as children and those who have asthma. The code for the colored flags: green means good air quality, yellow means moderate, orange is "unhealthy for sensitive groups," and red means the air is unhealthy for everyone. A purple flag means sensitive groups should avoid all outdoor exertion and everyone else should limit outdoor exertion.
Julie Childers, executive director of Trails for Youth.org, said a second Springfield school, Springfield Estates, has signed up for the program as well. "Springfield Estates is also starting the air quality flag program very soon, they are getting their flags early this week," wrote Childers in an email to the Connection on Monday, May 13.
Trails for Youth.Org is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that mentors at-risk youth and provides opportunities for children to experience nature along with the joys and health benefits of being active outdoors. For more information on their program, go to www.trailsforyouth.org.