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Standards Keep Kids Safe and Happy as They Head Back to School


New York, Sep 06, 2013

As the temperatures drop and the first few leaves begin to change, parents and children nationwide are geared up for the beginning of a new school year. And as learners of every age take their seats in classrooms nationwide, voluntary consensus standards are on hand to help school boards, administrators, and teachers make their students’ time at school as safe and enjoyable as possible.

While some kids still walk to school and many are driven there by their parents, taking the big yellow school bus is still an iconic part of millions of children’s daily commute to school. A standard developed by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and accredited standards developer SAE International helps to bolster bus safety by providing important information on school bus stop arm lamps, which inform nearby cars when students are entering or exiting a school bus. SAE J 1133-2011 (SAE J1133-2011), School Bus Stop Arm Lamp, sets down performance requirements, design guidelines, and test procedure references for these devices, which are featured on school buses nationwide.

Once at school, students need adequate lighting to keep chalkboards visible and textbooks easy to read. ANSI/IESNA RP-3-00, Lighting for Educational Facilities, provides guidance regarding the lighting needs associated with a wide range of educational spaces, from preschools to continuing education facilities, and discusses how different lighting schemes can effectively be used to benefit specific types of instructional media, including video displays and chalkboards. This American National Standard (ANS), which was developed by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, also gives information about specific design considerations, including issues related to government codes, energy management, psychological impacts, and more.

Having a functioning, effective communications system is an another important tool for school staff, allowing them to quickly inform students and faculty members about emergencies, as well as other less-worrisome topics, such as school assemblies, bake sales, and upcoming sporting events. A standard from ANSI member and accredited standards developer the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) covers the installation, performance, and maintenance of school communications systems and their related components. NEMA SB 40-2010, Communications Systems for Life Safety in Schools, sets down minimum required performance levels for these systems and defines the required reliability for the different types of these systems.

While many students bring their lunches from home, food prepared in school cafeterias is a regular part of the school day for students across the country. A standard developed by NSF International, an ANSI member and audited designator, helps keep these cafeterias running by providing guidance related to common cooking and food preparation tools. NSF/ANSI 8-2012, Commercial powered food preparation equipment, includes guidelines for the use of pasta makers, vegetable peelers, mixers, and other useful devices.

For many kids, their time at school doesn’t end when the bell rings: extracurricular clubs, activities, and sports provide fun ways to fill an afternoon. For students on school wrestling teams, ASTM F1081-09, Standard Specification for Competition Wrestling Mats, provides requirements for most types of high school and college competition wrestling mats. The standard, which was developed by ASTM International, an ANSI member and audited designator, does not include felt-core mats enclosed in sewn covers and does not attempt to address all safety concerns related to the use of wrestling mats.

While not every student will cheer the arrival of a new school year (particularly those who still aren’t done with their summer reading), they can nonetheless take comfort in the fact that voluntary standards are there to help make the schools they attend safer and more effective.

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