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Section 1: Introduction
 

Reminder

Make frequent copies of your data file (BE_HSEAT.mdb).

1.1 Overview

1 For simplicity, 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. While HealthySEAT is primarily geared toward K-12 school facilities, it may also be useful for colleges and universities as well as other types of buildings.

EPA has developed a unique software tool to help school districts1 evaluate and manage their school facilities for key environmental, safety and health issues. The Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT) 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 its regulatory and voluntary programs for schools, as well as web links to more detailed information. Districts and others can download HealthySEAT at no cost from the EPA web site. HealthySEAT is meant to be loaded and used on district computers; once it is downloaded from the EPA web site, HealthySEAT can be customized and used as the district sees fit. There are no reporting requirements and no obligations to use the checklist EPA has provided.

1.2 Purpose of HealthySEAT

Numerous public, private, charter, and tribal schools in the United States contain hazards that may pose risks to children and staff. The guidance included in HealthySEAT can improve the health of students and staff by ensuring that 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.

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

In addition, HealthySEAT will help school districts:

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1.3 Components of HealthySEAT

HealthySEAT consists of three primary components:

  1. a web page;
  2. this user’s manual; and
  3. the tracking software.

The web page, www.epa.gov/schools, provides information about HealthySEAT and allows school districts, states, and others to download HealthySEAT at no charge. Future updates to HealthySEAT can be obtained from this same web page. This user’s manual provides step-by-step instructions for customizing and using HealthySEAT. The tracking software helps districts 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 can generate and print its own:

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1.4 Organization of HealthySEAT

The HealthySEAT software is organized into three primary functions, each of which is represented by a button on the Main Menu:

While HealthySEAT is designed to allow full customization of the content by school districts, the software comes pre-loaded with a checklist that covers a wide array of issues that school districts may wish to assess for each of their schools. The checklist is organized by the physical areas of the school to be assessed, the issue-specific topics and subtopics for each area of the school, and specific assessment standards representing the positive conditions an assessor would look for in each area of the school facility.

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

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1.5 Intended Uses of HealthySEAT

HealthySEAT 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 HealthySEAT software is designed specifically to manage information on multiple facilities. 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 HealthySEAT is not a substitute for the day-to-day vigilance and good practice that is required at every school to effectively manage environmental, safety and health issues in a manner that protects children, staff and the environment at all times.

Many states and school districts are already undertaking or encouraging school facility assessments, and EPA has designed HealthySEAT so that these states 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 to work across the appropriate state agencies to incorporate state requirements into HealthySEAT to help reduce the duplication of effort required for each district to independently research state requirements.

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