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Healthy School Environments

Appendix B: State Case Studies

colorado icon Colorado Case Study

Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools (CCHS): Coalition and Coordination Group Success

Background

Colorado Connections for Healthy Schools (CCHS) began as a result of funding received in 2003 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a Coordinated School Health initiative. CCHS was first established to provide professional development to schools and their partners to help implement Coordinated School Health efforts in Colorado's schools. Effective 2012, Colorado Connections for Healthy Schools became the Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools to reflect the program's evolution into a statewide coalition that addresses school health more broadly and comprehensively.

The Program

The CDC's Coordinated School Health strategy is recommended as a way to improve students' health and learning in our nation's schools. Coordinated School Health consists of eight components:

1. Health education

2. Health services

3. Counseling

4. Nutrition services and education

5. Physical education and activity

6. Family and community involvement

7. Staff wellness

8. Healthy school environments

The Coordinated School Health strategy promoted by CCHS is an approach that Colorado schools are encouraged to adopt. Grant support is offered to participating schools, and schools with successful implementation efforts are encouraged to act as champions and promote the strategy to other schools within their district. As of February 2012, over 300 schools participate, including those in rural, mountain, and metropolitan communities.

CCHS can be defined through a five-tier structure:

  • CCHS Membership (800 members) is responsible for identifying and aligning goals and resources for professional development, data, funding, and communication.
  • The Interagency School Health Team has grown from content experts leveraging resources, coordinating activities, and sharing information to become a steering committee for CCHS.
  • The Management Team provides implementation oversight of the CDC grant initiative, including monitoring the School Level Impact Measures that are measured using the School Health Profiles school level policy and activity survey.
  • School District Health Coordinators (in districts where Coordinated School Health is implemented) promote the strategy at the district level, provide oversight, and are a resource for implementation to school level health teams.
  • School Health Teams plan, coordinate, and monitor school-based health goals that were developed to meet students' health needs in their respective schools.

In addition, local school health champions and interested community partners play a significant role in educating others about CCHS by highlighting the connection between student academic achievement and health.

Several resources are available to assist schools and school districts using Coordinated School Health supported by CCHS. Colorado's Roadmap to Healthy Schools provides information to schools and school districts on forming school health teams, adopting school health plans, and institutionalizing Coordinated School Health. The Healthy School Champions Scorecard, an online recognition tool, is often used as an additional method to inform a school's health assessment. The scorecard was developed by core members of CCHS and allows schools and school districts to formally rate just how healthy their schools are for students, teachers, and staff.

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Program Highlights

CCHS is championed by a core group of partners including:

  • Colorado Department of Education;
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment;
  • Colorado Legacy Foundation;
  • Colorado Health Foundation;
  • Center for Research Strategy;
  • Creative Media Solutions; and
  • RMC Health.
  • By institutionalizing a statewide infrastructure for school health, with foundation support leveraging the funding from the CDC initiative, CCHS has evolved into a grassroots driven multi-purpose school health coalition.
  • The Healthy School Champions Scorecard has successfully encouraged schools to showcase their efforts to meet healthy schools criteria. In the first year, over 100 schools completed the scorecard to find out their healthy school rating, and the top 15 schools were formally recognized and received grant recognition awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. This recognition has become an annual event sponsored by state foundations.
  • Partnerships, stakeholder involvement, and interagency collaboration are key components of CCHS and have facilitated the incorporation of the healthy school framework in over 300 schools throughout the state.

Lessons Learned

  • Building a variety of relationships that include influential decision-makers (e.g., school board members) can facilitate formation of a coalition like CCHS that ensures support of school health efforts in the state.
  • Branding your work and developing a messaging/marketing plan is important, as well as enlisting the talents and interest of key stakeholders to promote the program.
  • It is necessary to listen to and keep the end user (e.g., the schools and students) involved in the process as much as possible.

More Information

Colorado Department of Education website: www.cde.state.co.us Exit EPA Disclaimer

Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools Schools (CCHS) website: www.healthyschoolchampions.org Exit EPA Disclaimer

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connecticut icon Connecticut Case Study

Connecticut Tools for Schools Program

Background

Connecticut's Tools for Schools program was created to address the numerous calls the Connecticut Department of Public Health was receiving on indoor air quality issues, as well as several illness situations that had arisen in schools throughout the state. The Connecticut Department of Public Health worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1 to develop a statewide Tools for Schools indoor air quality program. After school districts requested implementation assistance, the Connecticut Department of Public Health organized a resource team that evolved into a multi-agency consortium known as CSIERT (Connecticut School Indoor Environment Resource Team). Currently, this team includes 24 agencies and organizations.

The Program

Some of the 24 CSIERT agencies and organizations include:

  • Connecticut Association of Boards of Education
  • Connecticut Education Association
  • Connecticut Association of School Business Officials
  • Connecticut Department of Education
  • Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
  • Connecticut Department of Public Health
  • Connecticut Parent Teacher Association
  • Connecticut School Building and Grounds Association
  • Connecticut School Nurses Association

Connecticut's Tools for Schools program promotes a low-cost, problem-solving, team-based approach to improving indoor air quality in schools. After committing to the program, participating schools must establish a Tools for Schools building team, including an administrator, school nurse, head custodian, and a parent. The building team receives 5 hours of training on school indoor air quality and how to conduct a walk-through investigation, and develops a plan for getting started. Once a walk-through has been conducted, the team prioritizes a list of action steps and identifies a timeline for completion. Connecticut state law requires all public schools to have an indoor air program.

Connecticut's Tools for Schools program has expanded since its inception to address a variety of environmental health issues. Its growth has been driven by the passage of school health laws and mandates by the state, including: anti-idling and diesel emission reduction laws; a green cleaning mandate for schools; a pesticides-in-schools law; and a law requiring new schools be constructed to high performance (energy-efficient) standards. As of July 2011, Connecticut school districts must implement a green cleaning program.

CSIERT's training and outreach efforts, tailored to Connecticut schools' needs and state environmental health policies, play a critical role in Connecticut's Tools for Schools program. CSIERT's flagship training program is a 2part, five hour implementation workshop for school staff and parents that covers indoor air quality health issues, how the Tools for Schools program works, conducting site walk-throughs, prioritizing indoor air quality problems, and communication. A custodian training workshop and a refresher training workshop are also available. All training opportunities are free, conducted at the school district level, and administered based on how mature a district's program is (e.g., new or existing program). Although the focus of training is indoor air quality, CSIERT has added modules that address green cleaning, pest management, and diesel emission reduction strategies. CSIERT also provides ongoing consultation with school building teams to set priorities and answer technical questions; offers a train-the-trainer curriculum; gives presentations to school systems; and conducts workshops at statewide conferences. An on-going evaluation program measures the impact on schools that implement Connecticut's Tools for Schools program.

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Program Highlights

As of January 2012:

  • CSIERT has implemented its school environmental health program in more than 150 school districts across the state.
  • CSIERT has conducted refresher training for 374 schools in 64 school districts.
  • CSIERT has provided training for custodians in 607 schools in 53 school districts.
  • CSIERT has conducted over 690 training workshops for school building teams and custodians.
  • Over 7880 school staff, parents, and others have been trained.
  • CSIERT has made presentations to more than 155 Connecticut school systems.
  • Four full-day workshops have been conducted using the train-the-trainer curriculum.
  • Connecticut Department of Public Health and CSIERT have published a paper about the program, "A Statewide Multiagency Intervention Model for Empowering Schools to Improve Indoor Air Quality." The paper appeared in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health.

Lessons Learned

  • The key to success with the CSIERT consortium model is maintaining regular communication between stakeholder organizations and their members about implementing and improving the program.
  • Sell the program to school districts. Give a buy-in presentation to the superintendent and executive staff to obtain support before moving forward with training or program implementation.
  • A key part of Connecticut's program strategy is emphasizing a team-based model. CSIERT encourages schools to have active five- to six-person teams, including one parent, to mobilize staff and implement the program. School districts are also encouraged to develop a district-wide indoor air quality management plan and structure that can be integrated into existing district efforts, such as a district health and safety committee.

More Information

Connecticut Department of Public Health's School Environment site: www.ct.gov/dph/schools Exit EPA Disclaimer

Connecticut Tools for Schools Program website: http://csiert.org/index.php/ct-tfs-overview-training-program Exit EPA Disclaimer

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kentucky icon Kentucky Case Study

Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools (KGHS)

Background

Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools (KGHS) began in 2007 as a joint project between the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Kentucky Department of Education. The voluntary program encourages students and teachers to evaluate the built and natural environment, with an emphasis on conservation, waste reduction, and environmental health. 

The Program

KGHS is a student-centered program that encourages students and teachers to implement projects to improve the health, safety, and sustainability of their school. Schools are responsible for their own coordination and usually a "lead teacher" assumes responsibility for the school's program. KGHS program activities are completed either after school or as part of a classroom curriculum. In addition to student-teacher collaboration, maintenance staff and janitors are often involved, especially with projects concerning energy, waste management, and green spaces.

KGHS offers nine categories for potential projects:

  • Energy,
  • Green spaces,
  • Hazardous chemicals,
  • Health and safety,
  • Indoor air quality,
  • Instructional leadership,
  • Solid waste,
  • Transportation, and
  • Water quality.

Each of the nine categories has a corresponding list of approximately 20 questions concerning how the school handles each particular issue. The students' answers to these questions help them decide what areas in the school need improvement. Students submit their proposed projects on the KGHS website and the KGHS office provides tools and support for students and teachers as they implement their projects. KGHS also offers awards to students (e.g., plaques, flags) as an incentive to complete their projects.

Conducting outreach to, and communicating with, teachers has been the most effective way of marketing the program. KGHS attends various teacher conferences and publishes a newsletter with updates and information on the program. KGHS offers professional development opportunities to train teachers, and can tailor the training by content area, grade level, or specific category if they know what the school is interested in. In addition to teacher training, KGHS requires schools new to the program to complete a 30 minute website training and sign a pledge form.

Lessons Learned

  • Educate and find ways to involve students in environmental health issues encountered at their schools.
  • Identify your target audiences and tailor outreach and training to their specific needs.

More Information

Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools (KGHS) Program website: www.greenschools.ky.gov Exit EPA Disclaimer

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kentucky icon Kentucky Case Study

Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS)

Background

The Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS) was launched in 2006 as a pilot program to test the idea of providing on-site energy efficiency technical assistance to school districts and higher education institutions. The pilot program was funded by the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence and administered by the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center at the University of Louisville J.B. Speed School of Engineering. Active pilot participants realized substantial cost savings through improved energy performance.

The Program

KEEPS partners with the following organizations:

  • KGHS
  • Kentucky National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project
  • Kentucky School Boards Association
  • Kentucky School Plant Management Association

In April 2008, Kentucky Revised Statute 160.325 was signed into law as an unfunded mandate requiring all 174 Kentucky public school district boards of education to enroll in KEEPS by January 2010. The statute also required Kentucky public school boards of education to report data on annual energy usage, costs, and energy saving measures to the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center through KEEPS by December 1 of each year beginning in 2011. School districts submit this information to KEEPS using a KEEPS Energy Management Report, which considers 62 energy performance factors, including energy consumption, cost, behavior changes, number of ENERGY STAR appliances, and current contracts for energy efficiency, among others. A summary of this data is compiled on an annual basis into a KEEPS Status Report, which is published each January and submitted to the Legislative Research Commission and the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence.

KEEPS follows the seven-step framework outlined in ENERGY STAR's Guidelines for Energy Management:

Step 1: Make the commitment

Step 2: Assess performance

Step 3: Set goals

Step 4: Create an action plan

Step 5: Implement the plan

Step 6: Evaluate progress

Step 7: Recognize achievements

KEEPS is marketed as a fiscal program that saves school districts money. The program provides one-on-one meetings, workshops, and site visits designed to help school districts recognize energy efficiency opportunities and potential financial savings. This approach has proven successful even in coal-producing counties where environmental issues, particularly energy efficiency, can be sensitive subjects. The team of KEEPS regional coordinators, engineers, and energy managers leverage ENERGY STAR's seven-step Guidelines for Energy Management as the structure for delivering program services and helping school districts establish their energy management programs.

KEEPS developed a series of 26 self-guided, online Energy Management Toolkits, which include of 229 free downloadable toolkit resources, to provide guidance for school district energy teams to progress through the seven-step process at their own pace. Several of these resources were beta-tested by school district energy managers and energy teams.

KEEPS engineers and energy managers provide on-site energy efficiency assessments and utility bill analyses of school district facilities and provide training to district energy managers so they can conduct their own assessments and analyses.

Since the mandate, all 174 Kentucky school districts have enrolled in KEEPS and adopted school-board approved energy policies. Of the 174 districts:

166 have been actively involved in KEEPS leadership meetings
163 established energy performance tracking standards
133 established cross-functional energy teams that meet regularly
124 developed communication plans to raise awareness about district-wide energy-saving initiatives
85 identified energy performance goals
62 implemented energy management action plans
47 have earned KEEPS energy management awards

The KEEPS Awards and Recognition Program acknowledges the success of school district energy management programs that reach milestones through the seven-step ENERGY STAR energy management framework. The progressive awards—Stewardship, Champion, and Leadership—are based on documented achievements that illustrate the progress of the energy programs.

KEEPS communications and outreach efforts include the following:

  • The KEEPS website (www.kppc.org/KEEPS Exit EPA Disclaimer) serves as the primary mechanism to deploy information about services and resources available, including toolkits, recorded webinars, and publications.
  • The KEEPS Moving Forward monthly e-newsletter includes a "Kudos and Newsmakers" section that highlights success stories.
  • KEEPS-sponsored training, workshops, and events offer peer-to-peer networking and mentoring opportunities that allow school districts to share ideas and offer guidance on implementing best energy management practices.

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Program Highlights

  • In 2009, fewer than 10 Kentucky school districts were ENERGY STAR partners. That number has since grown to 127—an eleven-fold increase in participation. Kentucky has the highest percentage of K-12 ENERGY STAR partners (73%) in the country.
  • Of the 1,400 K-12 schools in Kentucky, KEEPS has performed more than 190 on-site energy assessments and identified a total potential reduction in energy consumption of 212,781 million Btu per year representing avoided energy costs of $3,306,000.

Lessons Learned

  • Establish a common message for your program and clearly define the program benefits and resources to school districts.
  • Maintain frequent contact with school districts to provide program updates, technical assistance, and other information of benefit.
  • Provide training to all program staff with the same goals in mind.
  • Use feedback from participants in pilot projects or schools and school districts with successful programs. Their successes and lessons learned will help your program evolve and improve.
  • School districts that are made aware of the energy and cost savings of other districts realized through energy management program implementation are likely to follow suit.
  • To achieve long-term sustainable results, school districts must embrace behavioral changes that promote best energy management practices in day-to-day operations.

More Information

Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS) website: www.kppc.org/KEEPS Exit EPA Disclaimer

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minnesota icon Minnesota Case Study

Minnesota: Model Indoor Air Quality Program for Schools

Background

In 1997, a change was made to Minnesota Statute 123B.57 requiring all schools applying for health and safety funding to develop a health and safety program that includes an indoor air quality management plan. The Minnesota Department of Health recommended schools use EPA's Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools program as a basis for developing their indoor air quality plans. The 2011 Legislative Session amended Minnesota Statute 123B.57 to require school boards adopt a health and safety policy that includes provisions for implementing a health and safety program that complies with health, safety, and environmental regulations and best practices, including indoor air quality management.

The Program

Minnesota's indoor air quality best practices include having an indoor air quality coordinator and completing three IAQ Tools for Schools checklists (i.e., walk-through, ventilation, and maintenance) every year. Each school district is responsible for identifying what indoor air quality issues need to be addressed within the district, and must have an indoor air quality plan approved every year by its school board. The Minnesota Department of Health does not dictate what additional policies school districts must follow, but focuses on providing education and technical assistance for ventilation problems, mold and moisture, cleaning products, radon, and building maintenance, to name a few. The Minnesota Department of Health also offers complete indoor air quality coordinator trainings every year.

Minnesota's indoor air quality program and school environmental health efforts are coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Health in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

From 2000 to 2006, the Minnesota Department of Health received a grant from EPA Region 5 to fund evaluation efforts. Each year, the agency completed a yearly survey of every school district in the state asking specifically about each school's indoor air quality program and its progress. The Minnesota Department of Health used the data to track how many schools were engaging in various indoor air quality projects. In addition, the agency completed 20 on-site reviews at randomly selected districts to determine whether they were developing and implementing indoor air quality plans according to the state's best practices. The Minnesota Department of Health also investigated the impact of implementing an indoor air quality program. The agency measured allergens and CO2 (a surrogate for ventilation rates) and surveyed school staff about their perceptions of the school's indoor air quality both before the program and one year after the program was implemented. The agency reported measurable changes in the schools studied. Details regarding the Minnesota Department of Health's evaluation efforts can be found in published reports (e.g., Tranter et al., 2009 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene Vol. 6).

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Program Highlights

  • Since 1997, more than 90% of Minnesota's school districts have adopted an indoor air quality program. Minnesota has also established several other school-specific laws, including a mercury instrument ban and a school bus anti-idling law.

Lessons Learned

  • Every school is unique. Meet with school officials to find out what issues they need help addressing.
  • Work with state agencies and the private sector. Each has unique expertise to contribute toward an indoor air quality (or environmental health) program.
  • Statewide training is key to successful program implementation.

More Information

Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Quality in Schools website: www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/schools/ index.html Exit EPA Disclaimer

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new hampshire icon New Hampshire Case Study

New Hampshire Partners for Healthy Schools

Background

In 2007, the New Hampshire Department of Education partnered with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, and Breathe New Hampshire to launch a Healthy Schools Pilot Project to help schools address indoor air quality issues. The partnership provided technical assistance to two schools to help implement environmental health programs based on EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools program.

The Program

New Hampshire's school environmental health program builds on the successes and lessons learned from the pilot projects conducted in 2007. Each fall, the program begins work with a new set of schools, identified through the New Hampshire Department of Education, in need of assistance with environmental health issues. Participating schools form a committee made up of key staff (e.g., principals, teachers, nurses, and facilities managers) that is in charge of developing work plans for their school and encouraging buy-in at the school level. The partnership provides free assessment, training, technical assistance, and mentoring to address environmental needs identified by the schools.

Outreach and marketing has played a key role in expanding and improving New Hampshire's program. In the beginning, the partnership had to aggressively market the program so schools understood how the program worked. The partners attended conferences and hosted workshops and trainings to attract interest and encourage participation. Through their outreach and marketing campaign the partnership has also gained new partners, including the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture and insurance providers. These new partners have enabled the program to expand its reach to address new areas of environmental health, including integrated pest management, clutter, and general safety issues.

New Hampshire's school environmental health program has also benefited from the passage of new state laws. Program partners and one of the pilot schools' principals testified at legislative hearings for two proposed bills requiring school boards to develop a policy to address air quality issues in schools. Both bills passed in 2010 and now all New Hampshire schools are required by law to complete an annual environmental health and safety checklist.

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Program Highlights

  • Of the 474 schools in New Hampshire, over 160 have turned in the environmental health and safety checklist for 2011.

Lessons Learned

  • Seek professional opinions on school environments to better understand the environmental health issues you want to address.
  • Develop a work plan and review it yearly. Taking the time to think critically about your work will help when communicating about the program and its benefits.
  • Consistently communicate with your partners. Continuous communication and collaboration will help keep partners engaged and moving forward with the program.
  • Gaining buy-in and support from school administrators (e.g., superintendent and principal) is a critical step for working effectively with schools and school districts.

More Information

New Hampshire Health School Environments Program website: www.nhhealthyschoolenvironments.org/index.html Exit EPA Disclaimer

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rhode island icon Rhode Island Case Study

Rhode Island: Financing Without Funding

Background

Rhode Island has passed several laws that address environmental health in schools:

  • In 1964, the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE) collaborated on legislation entitled Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs. The legislation prescribes minimum requirements to maintain safe and healthy schools in Rhode Island, and contains statutory requirements relating to environmental health issues including asbestos, pesticide use, and lead. The law has been amended several times, most recently in January 2009.
  • In 2007, Rhode Island passed a set of school construction regulations that require all schools receiving construction funding to implement an indoor air quality management plan. These regulations also require the use of the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools protocol, which has a strong focus on indoor air quality.
  • Rhode Island General Law §16-21-7 requires all Rhode Island schools have a school health program that adheres to the All school health programs must be approved by the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Director of Health.

The Program

Rhode Island began its school health program in 2007 in response to the school construction regulations that were passed. The program is modeled after EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools program and places an emphasis on indoor air quality. Rhode Island uses the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools protocol to address environmental health in school construction and design. The protocol identifies 18 indoor environmental quality prerequisites that address issues such as ventilation, chemical management, and integrated pest management. Rhode Island encourages schools to use the National Collaborative for High Performance Schools operations manual and report card to implement and evaluate their school health programs. In addition, schools are required to form green teams comprised of school personnel to oversee program implementation and environmental education efforts.

Members of a school green team can include:

  • School administrators
  • Teachers
  • School facilities staff
  • School nurses
  • Students
  • Parents
  • Community-based health professionals
  • Business representatives

Rhode Island's school health program operates without support from grant funding. As a result, RIDE has developed a multi-stakeholder, community approach to implement and sustain the program without formal funding. RIDE has teamed up with the Rhode Island Department of Health, the NEED project, non-profit organizations, universities, and private sector businesses to create outreach materials and provide training. For example:

  • NEED works with Rhode Island schools to develop place-based energy programs.
  • Several non-profits, including the Apeiron Institute and Small Feet, provide direct support to the schools' green teams.
  • The University of Rhode Island Energy Fellows program helps school districts complete ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager.
  • RIDE has hired interns to develop a variety of outreach and educational materials to help schools and school districts implement their school health programs.
  • With a broad coalition of stakeholders, RIDE has helped plan an annual sustainable schools summit to promote healthy learning environments and to provide resources to integrate sustainability practices into school curriculum and culture.

RIDE is committed to sustaining Rhode Island's school health program through on-going communication efforts. The agency holds workshops and forums for school districts and meets with districts on a daily basis to discuss program progress and relevant concerns. RIDE is also heavily involved in school renovation work and construction discussions.

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Program Highlights

  • As of January 2012, ten school districts have committed to implementing Rhode Island's school health program.

Lessons Learned

  • The broad-based support made possible through community collaboration has enabled RIDE program staff to do a lot with little or no budget.
  • Be willing to learn from stakeholders and collaborating organizations. Their networks can lead to additional organizations and programs that are willing to contribute.
  • Provide venues and methods for communicating with stakeholders and the community (i.e., forums, meetings, and listservs).
  • Use a "green team" concept to bring together relevant school staff and community members to create a sense of ownership and ensure a sustainable program.

More Information

Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE)—Funding School Construction: www.ride.ri.gov/Finance/Funding/construction/default.aspx Exit EPA Disclaimer

Rhode Island's Coordinated School Health Program (CSHP): http://www.ride.ri.gov/HighSchoolReform/CSH/default.aspx Exit EPA Disclaimer

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washington icon Washington Case Study

Washington School Environmental Health and Safety Program (SchEH&S)

Background

The State of Washington pioneered school environmental health and safety, adopting the State Board of Health Rule for Primary and Secondary Schools in 1955. This rule established minimum environmental health and safety standards for education facilities (e.g., siting, lighting, ventilation, noise, heating, and safety), and requires local health jurisdictions (LHJs) to review and approve plans for new and remodeled schools and conduct pre-opening inspections. LHJs also were required to inspect schools annually until 1971 when the rule was amended to require "periodic" inspections. Now the frequency of inspections depends on local resources.

In the mid-1990s, the Washington State Department of Health and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction brought together LHJs, state and federal agencies, school associations, school administrators, nurses, risk managers, and facility maintenance and operations staff from school districts across the state to develop one set of guidelines on health and safety rules and best practices for K-12 schools: the Health and Safety Guide for K–12 Schools in Washington (2000, 2003, 2012). At the same time, tighter school construction and lower ventilation rates, in addition to construction issues around the state, raised concerns about mold problems and indoor air quality. The Washington Department of Health worked with its partners to obtain EPA IAQ Tools for Schools grants; conduct indoor air quality and mold trainings for school and LHJ staff; and produce the School IAQ Best Management Practices Manual (1995, 2003) and Responding to IAQ Concerns in our School (2005).

The Program

Washington Department of Health School Environmental Health and Safety partners include:

  • Council of Educational Facilities Planners International
  • Northwest Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit
  • Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Washington Association of Maintenance and Operations Administrators
  • Washington Association of School Administrators
  • Washington Association of School Business Officials
  • Washington Education Association
  • Washington State Parent Teachers Association
  • Washington State School Directors' Association
  • Washington State University Extension and Energy Programs

Washington's Department of Health School Environmental Health and Safety (SchEH&S) Program activities revolve around three key themes: (1) partnerships; (2) technical assistance and training; and (3) workshops and outreach.

Partnerships

The Department of Health SchEH&S Program has fostered partnerships with state and federal agencies, school-centered organizations, and risk managers. It participates on key committees such as the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction's School Facilities Technical Advisory Committee and School Safety Center Advisory Committee. The program also provides liaisons between state agency workgroups and schools. One such collaboration involves working with the Urban Pest Education Strategy Team to provide resources and training on integrated pest management. Another successful collaboration is with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and school groups on the Washington Sustainable Schools program, which includes promoting voluntary guidelines for school construction that address energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, water use, natural day lighting, and indoor air quality.

Technical Assistance and Training

The Department of Health SchEH&S Program provides technical assistance to LHJs and school staff (e.g., risk managers, maintenance and operations, custodians, nurses, and administrators) on environmental health and safety issues. The program works with school nurses and custodians to implement best practices for infection control in schools, including proper hand washing, cleaning, and disinfecting. The program supports and promotes King County's Local Hazardous Waste Management Rehab the Lab Program, as well as other efforts made by state agencies and Educational Service Districts to provide technical assistance and training on safe chemical management, lab safety, and chemical cleanouts in schools. The Department of Health SchEH&S Program also provides interpretation and technical support on the State Board of Health school rule and the Health and Safety Guide for K–12 Schools in Washington guidance.

Workshops and Outreach

The Department of Health SchEH&S Program promotes school environmental health and safety through presentations to, and participation in, various school and public health associations. The program holds annual fall workshops around the state that bring LHJs and school staff together to network and receive information on school environmental health and safety. The program is a partner in the Washington State CDC funded Coordinated School Health Program, another means of disseminating environmental health information to schools. Newsletters, listservs, and the Department of Health SchEH&S website are also used as outreach tools to reach target audiences.

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Program Highlights

  • Through education and training, schools have become more knowledgeable concerning ventilation and indoor air quality. As a result, there has not been a major school shut down for some time.

Lessons Learned

  • Work with and develop partnerships with a variety of agencies and organizations to enhance program implementation and reach schools more effectively.
  • Provide training and outreach to schools empowers them to deal with environmental health issues before they have a negative impact on the school environment.
  • Use a variety of ways to disseminate environmental health information to schools, school districts, and school groups to ensure you reach all target audiences.

More Information

Washington Department of Health School Environmental Health and Safety website: http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Schools/EnvironmentalHealth Exit EPA Disclaimer

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wisconsin icon Wisconsin Case Study

Wisconsin Green and Healthy Schools

Background

In 2002, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources adopted a model that integrated many of its existing school environmental health and safety programs as a way to streamline its work with schools. The result was a voluntary, web-based certification program designed to directly support all Wisconsin K-12 schools striving for healthy, safe, and environmentally friendly learning environments.

The Program

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources launched its Green Schools program in 2003, and in 2004 teamed up with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to create the Wisconsin Green and Healthy Schools program. School participants complete a three step certification process covering areas including: waste and recycling, energy, water, facilities, healthy lifestyle, transportation, indoor air quality, chemical management, integrated pest management, and community involvement. As part of the certification process, schools conduct comprehensive environmental audits of their facilities and practices, and identify actions the school can take to become greener and healthier. Once a school has fulfilled the minimum criteria of the program and has made improvements to areas identified in the audit, the school can apply to become a Wisconsin Green and Healthy School. Schools can continue to improve by participating in the Reaching Higher step, which entails completing assessments and taking actions in topic areas not addressed in the original Green and Healthy Schools application.

The Wisconsin Green and Healthy Schools program offers a series of workshops to assist school staff, teachers, and administrators with adopting the program in their schools. The workshops provide an in-depth introduction to the program, connect area resources (e.g., businesses, non-profits, and local government) with schools, and help individual schools develop a plan for making their school green and healthy. The program also promotes school participation through its website and newsletters, highlighting the flexibility and self-pacing of the program and some of the program's benefits (e.g., energy and money savings and improved student learning and health).

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Program Highlights

  • The Wisconsin Green and Healthy Schools program has 140 participating schools. Of those, 32 have completed all three steps of the program and 4 are participating in the Reaching Higher step.

Lessons Learned

  • The partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction brings credibility to the program and makes schools more willing to participate.
  • Integrating many schools programs into one overarching program is appealing to schools with limited funding and resources.
  • Promote the benefits of program involvement. Emphasizing cost and energy savings is important in a tight economy.

More Information

Wisconsin Green and Healthy Schools program website: dnr.wi.gov/greenandhealthyschools Exit EPA Disclaimer

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