What’s happening in Rainbow Schools?

Rainbow Board declares climate change emergency and commits to further action

Rainbow District School Board is redoubling its efforts to fight climate change.

At the regular meeting of the Board on September 24, 2019, Trustees approved a motion that Rainbow District School Board declare a climate change emergency and create a climate change action plan including having 100% of Rainbow Schools certified as EcoSchools within three years, with each school committed to reducing its carbon footprint and increasing sustainable practices.

In support of the motion, all Rainbow Schools will unplug for one hour on Thursday, September 26, 2019 with a lights out event that engages every student from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in a discussion about individual, classroom and school level commitments that can be taken immediately to contribute to a climate change action plan.

“There is an urgent need to take further action,” said Rainbow District School Board Chair Doreen Dewar. “While we have made tremendous strides in our efforts to go green, we need to do more. As leaders in learning, we will continue to play an active role in addressing this global concern.”

The Board’s climate emergency declaration falls on the heels of the United Nations Climate Action Summit held in New York on September 23, 2019 where world leaders were challenged to come together with concrete, realistic plans to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C” report states that we have less than 12 years to avert the worst impacts of climate change. The report identifies cities and urban areas as one of four critical global systems that can accelerate change, which prompted the City of Greater Sudbury to declare a climate emergency last spring.

“Stemming the tide will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society, including education,” said Director of Education Norm Blaseg. “The clock is ticking.”

Rainbow District School Board’s Environmental Committee issues monthly challenges to staff and students throughout the school year and supports schools in their efforts to achieve EcoSchools certification. The Board was among the top 10 fastest growing school boards to receive EcoSchools certifications in the 2018-2019 school year.

To date, 60 per cent of Rainbow Schools have earned certifications, 21 per cent higher than the provincial average. During the last school year, 27 Rainbow Schools achieved EcoSchools certifications. Seven schools achieved a gold certification, 15 achieved silver, and three achieved bronze. In a first, Central Manitoulin Public School and R.L. Beattie Public School were certified platinum, the highest level for Ontario EcoSchools.

The Ontario EcoSchools program provides students with proficiencies, perspectives and practices that help them become environmentally responsible citizens inside and outside of the classroom. Certification recognizes achievement in six key areas: ecological literacy, energy conservation, environmental stewardship, school ground greening, teamwork and leadership, and waste minimization.

“Each year, I am amazed at the strategies staff and students implement to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Director of Education Norm Blaseg. “Even the smallest of changes can have a profound impact on our health and the health of our planet.”

He added: “We are extremely proud of the work being done to make green a vibrant part of our Rainbow and will continue to advocate for change. Our future depends on our individual and collective commitments and contributions to tackle the most defining issue of our time.”

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Media Contact:

Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor,
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning,
Rainbow District School Board, 705-674-3171 ext. 7217.