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Helping Schools Create and Implement an Idle Reduction Policy

Exhaust fumes contain pollutants that cause cancer, birth defects, asthma, and other serious illnesses. Children are particularly vulnerable to the pollutants in exhaust, which can be dangerously concentrated as drivers wait to pick up and drop off students at school. That’s why schools play an important role in protecting children from the health hazards of idling engines.

Maryland State Department of Education  and Maryland Department of the Environment recommend that schools create an idling policy to keep the air cleaner in and around school communities. But getting started may seem like a daunting challenge. With busy schedules and limited resources, school administrators have plenty to do already. They know creating an idle reduction policy is in the best interest of their students, but many aren’t sure about the best way to create and enforce a policy that’s supported by the school community.

MDE and MSDE have worked together to offer a practical solution.

Idle Free MD is an MDE program that encourages idle reduction throughout Maryland. The Idle Free MD Idle Reduction Guide for Schools collects all the resources available for schools into a single toolkit. It makes it easy for educators to get the word out about idling and garner support from parents, staff, bus drivers, and visitors. There are classroom learning opportunities that can educate students while getting them involved in promoting cleaner air in their community. Sample policies, marketing products, outreach messaging, and community-friendly enforcement tips demystify the process and save a lot of time for school administration and staff. Educators can even use their idle reduction progress towards earning and maintaining their Green School status.

The toolkit is a concise 4 pages and provides a flexible approach to idle reduction that schools at every level of commitment can implement. Additional resources (like signs, decals and certificates) may be available for those who participate, so reach out if you need more information or support from MDE at

We congratulate all schools who are committed to cleaner air for students and participate in the program! Download the Idle Reduction Guide for Schools and promote your efforts on social media using #IdleFreeMD.

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