School Flag Program
Photo courtesy of Clean Air Carolina
and the Mecklenburg County Health Department
The School Flag Program helps children, parents, school personnel and the community be aware of daily air quality conditions using brightly colored flags. Each day, a flag is raised in front of participating schools that signals the level of air pollution for that day. By comparing the colored flags to the Air Quality Index (AQI), members of the school and the surrounding community can tell what the daily air quality is, and adjust their activities to reduce their exposure to air pollution. Green indicates good air quality, yellow is moderate, orange means unhealthy for sensitive groups (like children and those with asthma), and red signals unhealthy air for everyone. A purple flag means the air quality is very unhealthy and sensitive groups should avoid all outdoor exertion and everyone else should limit outdoor exertion.
- School Flag Program Fact Sheet (PDF, 1p., 225KB, about PDF) (Updated 3/2013)
- School Flag Program Coordinator Handbook (PDF, 14 pp., 1.8MB, about PDF) (Updated 3/2013)
- School Flag Program Press Release Template (DOC, 1p., 7KB)
- Teacher, Student and School Resources
- School Flag Program Poster (PDF, 8 pp., 1.4MB, about PDF) An 18” X 24” poster, which can be displayed anywhere in the school (e.g., classrooms, front office) as a reminder of the different flag colors. The poster is not meant to replace the Air Quality and Outdoor Activity Guidance for Schools, which gives teachers, coaches, and parents more detail about what actions to take for each flag color.
- Picture Book: Why is Coco Orange? - Coco the chameleon introduces children age K-2 to the concept of air quality, and how to recognize symptoms and take action when air quality is bad.
- Activity Sheets:
Kindergarten (PDF, 1p., 235KB, about PDF) | Grades 1-2 (PDF, 1p., 238KB, about PDF) | Grades 3-5 (PDF, 1p., 147KB, about PDF)
Coloring page (PDF, 1p., 1.95MB, about PDF)
- Air Quality and Outdoor Activity Guidance for Schools (PDF, 2pp., 273KB, about PDF) The health benefits of regular exercise are well documented. The intent of this chart is to help children continue to exercise while protecting their health when air quality is in unhealthy ranges.(Updated 3/2013)
- School Flag Program Registration Form
- School Flag Program Registered Schools List
- School Flag Program: Letter to Parents (PDF, 1p., 15KB, about PDF)
Flags for the School Flag Program
You can buy a set of flags through a local flag vendor, or you can find vendors online. Sometimes sponsors such as a parent teacher organization, a local environmental organization or a community business may be willing to purchase the flags for your school. You will need five flags: green, yellow, orange, red, and purple. The purple flag might be needed only on rare occasions, but it is important to have if there is an air quality alert due to a wildfire or other serious air quality episode. There are some suggested color names and PMS (pantone matching system) numbers that your flag vendor may recognize. If you cannot get these exact colors, any similar green, yellow, orange, red, and purple will do. The nylon flag colors are called #349 Irish Green (PMS 3415c), #108 FM Yellow (PMS 102c), #151 Golden Poppy (PMS 151c), #485 Canada Red (PMS 186c), and #2627 Pansy (PMS 2627c). The flag is pennant style and the dimensions are 3’x 5’. You may choose plain flags or flags with logos, graphics, or words (note that extra printing on the flags will cost more and may not be visible once the flag is raised on the flagpole). A set of five flags will usually cost under $100. The price often goes down if you order a large quantity of flag sets at the same time, so consider joining with other schools when you order your flags.