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Healthy School Environments

Basic Information

Getting Acquainted with HealthySEAT for the First Time?

HealthySEAT can be overwhelming if you don't know where to start. Some suggestions:

HealthySEAT Version 2 is now available!

Overview

EPA has developed a unique software tool to help school districts evaluate and manage their school facilities for key environmental, safety and health issues. [Note: EPA is using the term “district” to broadly describe any institutional system for managing multiple schools, whether they are public, private, tribal, charter or some variation.] The  Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEATv2) is designed to be customized and used by district-level staff to conduct completely voluntary self-assessments of their school (and other) facilities and to track and manage information on environmental conditions school by school.  In addition to powerful software that can be used by districts to track any facility issues it chooses, EPA has also included critical elements of all of its regulatory and voluntary programs for schools, as well as web links to more detailed information. Districts and others can download HealthySEATv2 at no cost from the EPA web site. HealthySEATv2 is meant to be loaded and used on district computers; once it is downloaded from the EPA web site, HealthySEATv2 is yours to customize and use as you see fit. There are no reporting requirements and no obligation to use the checklist EPA has provided.

Improve the Health, Safety, and Performance of Students and Staff

There are approximately 120,000 public, private, charter, and tribal schools in the United States, and many of them contain hazards that may pose risks to children and staff. The guidance included in HealthySEATv2 can improve the health of students and staff by ensuring that all potential environmental and safety hazards in schools are being properly managed. Examples of school environmental hazards include chemical releases, pesticide exposures, flaking lead paint, mold and other indoor air quality problems, and damaged asbestos-containing building materials.

HealthySEATv2 will help school districts identify and correct hazards before they result in:

  • health problems in students and staff such as asthma attacks, lead poisoning, and other chemical exposures;
  • productivity and performance losses in students and staff;
  • school closures due to spills, accidents, or other preventable environmental, health and safety issues;
  • costly building clean-ups;
  • regulatory enforcement actions by state or federal agencies;
  • community concern and resource-draining media attention.

In addition, HealthySEATv2 will help school districts:

  • Collect the kind of school- and hazard- specific data necessary to make a compelling case for needed renovation, repair and maintenance dollars.
  • Demonstrate to the community that your district is committed to the health and safety of children and staff.

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HealthySEATv2 Components

School districts, states, tribes, and others can download HealthySEAT at no charge and obtain future updates from EPA at this web site. HealthySEAT includes:

  • HealthySEATv2 User’s Manual. Step-by-step instructions are provided for customizing and using HealthySEATv2.
     
  • HealthySEATv2 Software. The tracking software uses a Runtime version of Microsoft Access and is self-contained. Districts will not need to purchase new software. An installation wizard will install HealthySEATv2 on any district Windows-based computer. Districts can install HealthySEATv2 on their district network server if they wish; security controlled access allows multiple users from multiple locations without compromising data.

    The software will help districts to manage all aspects of a district-wide assessment program, including generating letters to individual schools pre-and post assessment visit, tracking the status of facility conditions and corrective actions school-by-school, and creating and generating reports for district use.

    From within the tracking software, the district will be able to generate and print its own:

    • Customized Assessment Checklist.  A customized master checklist (as well as the Guidebook, below) will be generated for the user, once she/he decides which hazards the district chooses to track in its assessment program by simply clicking appropriate boxes in the customization screens. All aspects of the tool can be easily customized by school districts to reflect the programs and requirements specifically applicable to their schools. Districts choose which hazards to integrate into their own assessment programs, and can modify all of the content as it sees fit. The tool is designed so that Districts can assess and track a virtually unlimited number of facility conditions, including non-environmental issues from bathroom cleanliness to emergency response plans, if it so chooses.

      A major new feature of HealthySEATv2 allows users to create and manage an unlimited number of custom checklists that are subsets of the master checklist, which covers the entire guidebook. For example, you can now create a checklist specifically for asbestos assessments, with only the assessment standards that apply. This should be very helpful to districts that conduct various types of specialized inspections.

    • Customized Guidebook. Districts will be able to print a more detailed customized guidebook that provides additional guidance on each of the hazards the district has selected for inclusion on its checklist for use by the assessor as well as other school district staff.

The HealthySEATv2 software has three primary components:

  1. Customize for District – Allows the district to fully customize the tool for district use, including adding its own name and district logo, facilities, assessors, and contacts for remediation, as well as tailoring the content to district policies, programs and priorities. The district can also tailor the prioritization scheme included with the tool, customize letters and manage security features, among other administrative functions.
  2. School-Specific Assessment Information – Allows the district to enter and store information about every assessment conducted at individual schools, track the status of every recommendation, and generate customized letters and reports to individual schools pre-and post-visits.
  3. Reports/Output Menu – Users can select from a variety of report options that organize and extract information from the database such as Assessment Findings by School, Recommendations by Topic/Subtopic, etc.

While HealthySEATv2 is designed to allow full customization of the content by school districts, the software comes pre-loaded with both a master checklist and example starter checklist that cover a wide array of issues that school districts may wish to assess for each of their schools.

The checklist included in HealthySEATv2 is organized by the physical areas of the school to be assessed, the issue-specific topics and sub-topics for each area of the school, and specific assessment standards that represent the facility conditions that an assessor would look for in each area.

Physical Areas of School Topics
Central Office
Classrooms
Attics, Mezzanines
Halls, Stairwells
Mechanical Rooms
Restrooms
Clinics
Custodial Closets
Grounds
Science Rooms and Laboratories
Playgrounds
Vis., Ind. Arts, Voc. Education Rooms
Indoor Athletic Facilities
Outdoor Athletic Facilities
Home Economics Rooms
Building Exterior
Computer / CADD Rooms
Roof
Music Rooms
Entrances and Exits
Auditoriums
Break Rooms
Cafeterias
Copy Rooms
Library/Media Center
Chemical management
Construction and renovation
Energy efficiency
Hazardous materials
Hazardous waste
Health, safety and injury prevention
Indoor air quality
Moisture/mold control
Non-hazardous waste
Outdoor air pollution
Pest control/Integrated Pest Management
Portable/relocatable classrooms
Ultra-violet radiation
Water (drinking-, waste-, storm-, and -efficiency)

In addition to information on EPA programs, HealthySEAT also includes information on health, safety and injury prevention, including:

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) comprehensive Safety Checklist Program for Schools Exit EPA Disclaimer, which contains recommendations as well as detailed checklists on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations which may be applicable to schools;
  • Centers for Disease Control, Division of Adolescent and School Health recommendations based on the CDC/DASH School Health Index Exit EPA Disclaimer; and
  • Department of Education, Safe and Drug Free Schools Crisis Management Exit EPA Disclaimer program.

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Using HealthySEATv2

HealthySEATv2 is intended primarily as a tool for school districts to use to periodically evaluate their school facilities at a macro level to be sure that all of the essential elements of key programs are being properly managed school-by-school. Districts choose the frequency with which they will conduct assessments, though EPA recommends that an assessment be conducted at each school at least annually. Districts may conduct the assessments using district staff, school-based staff, contractors, or a combination, depending on their particular circumstances and available resources.

The HealthySEATv2 software is designed specifically to manage information on multiple buildings. For this reason, the software itself is not intended to be used by individual schools. However, the customized checklist and guidebook developed by the district will be a potentially valuable resource for school-based as well as district staff. 

It is important to note that HealthySEATv2 is not a substitute for the day-to-day vigilance and good practice that is required at every school to effectively manage environmental, health and safety issues in a manner that protects children, staff and the environment at all times.

Many states, tribes, and school districts are already undertaking or encouraging school facility assessments, and EPA has designed HealthySEATv2 so that these states, tribes, and districts can easily incorporate their own checklists into the software. During and after the customization process, a simple toggle switch allows districts to view and use either the district-customized program or EPA-included assessment standards.

EPA strongly encourages states and tribes to work across the appropriate agencies to incorporate their own requirements into HealthySEATv2 to help reduce the duplication of effort required for each district to independently research applicable requirements.

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Acknowledgements

EPA would like to acknowledge several organizations that have provided invaluable assistance in the development of HealthySEAT.

HealthySEAT is adapted from a database tool originally developed by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Office of Environmental Health and Safety, to conduct self-assessment inspections in its approximately 900 school facilities.  EPA has made substantial modifications to the tool in order to make it widely available to the more than 14,000 school districts nationwide. 

The checklist provided with HealthySEATv2 was developed by EPA, and draws from many such resources that have been developed across the country.  A comprehensive draft checklist in development by the Indoor Environments Section of the Ohio Department of Health was particularly helpful in organizing the areas of the school to be assessed.

EPA also received extremely valuable input during the development of HealthySEAT from a number of organizations that field tested or otherwise reviewed the Beta version of the software or provided content included with the tool.

  • Maryland Department of Environment
  • Carroll County, Maryland School District
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health
  • Harrisburg , PA City School District
  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools
  • Milwaukee Public Schools
  • State of Wisconsin, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health  
  • Katy Independent School District, Katy, Texas
  • Salt Lake City School District
  • Visalia Unified School District, Visalia, California
  • Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency
  • Universidad del Turabo, Puerto Rico
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control
  • Healthy Schools Network

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