GUADALUPE, Calif. - Thousands of students stand to benefit from a new state law that is aimed at enhancing the safety of schools located near agriculture fields.
Starting on Jan. 1, growers have a new set of regulations regarding pesticide use near schools, levels K-12, plus licensed child day-care facilities.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has adopted new rules that now prevent farmers from using pesticides during school hours.
The new law prohibits the application of pesticides on fields located within a quarter-mile of schools between the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday.
According to the state, the regulation bans applications by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast sprayers, and all fumigant applications.
In addition, most dust and powder pesticide applications, such as sulfur, are also not to be used during the designated time.
The law is receiving a big thumbs up from Guadalupe Union School District superintendent Ed Cora.
"I think it's a good thing for kids and for parents and staff and kudos for the State of California for passing a law that focuses on the safety of kids," Cora said. "Anytime that the state or local government or district puts a law or policy into place that provides safety, a higher level of safety for students and staff, it's always an excellent idea."
Both schools in Guadalupe will be impacted by the new law, particularly Kermit McKenzie Junior High School.
"At McKenzie School, we've got three sides that are surrounded by fields," said Cora. "Safety comes first, that's what is best for all students and staff, so this is a great thing for students."
The new law also requires farmers to notify schools by April 30 which pesticides they expect to use between July 1 that same year through June 30 the next year.
"The plan is sit down with the local farmers and have a conversation with them and have a better idea lines of communication what pesticides are used," said Cora.
The new law will actually be business as usual for a lot of local farmers. Many said they've already stopped applying pesticides during the day years ago.
Cora said pesticide usage around Guadalupe has not been an issue.
"We have not seen that," said Cora. "We sometimes see the tractors out there, but we've not seen the pesticides during school hours."
State documents reveal the law will affect about 4,100 public schools and licensed child day-care facilities and approximately 2,500 growers.