Top Ten Ways to Promote Healthy Schools
The non-profit Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PCHS) Consortium and the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA) offer the following Top Ten Ways You Can Promote Healthy Schools.
According to Beth Risinger, IEHA CEO and executive director: "By offering the free (4.50 S&H) guidebook, Clean and Healthy Schools for Dummies, we aim to help cleaning professionals speak up for healthy schools, bring attention (and funds) to cleaning and maintenance programs, and drum up support for healthy change."
Rex Morrison, founder and president of the Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PCHS) Consortium, encourages managers to use these examples from the pocket guidebook to promote and support healthy schools in their community.
Top Ten Ways You Can Promote Healthy Schools
1. Recognize Who Manages the "Health" in a Healthy School
Who are the principal health managers of a building? Learn to appreciate the critical role played by the facility manager, custodian, cleaning manager, and others involved in the cleaning and maintenance of a healthy school. Help others to also appreciate this by making sure that support for cleaning and maintenance and healthy schools is a central focus of community dialogue. Start a dialogue that informs school or university administrators and other interested people. Doing so is the first step toward decisions that will establish healthy schools in your community. No single tactic works for every community, but consider also the steps below.
2. Get Health on the Agenda of Your Parent-Teacher Association
Ask to have students' and teachers' health put on the PTA or similar university agenda. Use the information from Clean and Healthy Schools for Dummies to help stakeholders understand the role of maintenance and cleaning for good health.
3. Recruit Key Players from the School Staff
Give a copy of Clean and Healthy Schools for Dummies to the facility manager and/or cleaning department manager and ask them to join the discussion and evaluate their ability to provide healthy schools with the resources available to them. Offer to help by taking a team approach with teachers, administrators, facility cleaning and maintenance staff, and the school nurse (in K-12 settings).
4. Make Health Organizations Part of Your Effort
Get support from local health organizations or agencies. Ask representatives to come to a PTA or appropriate university meeting and talk about chemical contamination, infectious diseases, and the best ways to provide healthier indoor environments in the schools.
5. Recruit Support from Parents, Community Leaders, Faculty Members
There is always resistance to change. So solicit support from parents and other stakeholders and community members for better indoor environmental quality in schools.
6. Make use of Healthy School Guides and Resources
Make use of available resources such as the Quick and Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools from the Healthy Schools Campaign, the operations and maintenance section of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools' (CHPS) Best Practices Manual, and EPA's excellent Tools for Schools Communication Guide. This guide explains the importance and fundamentals of effective, proactive, and responsive communications. You can find it here: www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/pdfs/publications/communicationsguide.pdf.
7. Form a Healthy School Task Force
Form a healthy schools task force from interested parties to jointly develop a strategy for improving the health of the school or university facilities. Establish a Web site to keep the rest of the community informed, and send out letters to stakeholders outlining the problems and strategies, and soliciting their involvement.
8. Write Articles for Local Publications
Write short articles about healthy schools and the goals of your initiative for the local newspaper and other publications. Frequently report on meeting agendas and progress towards healthy schools for the newspaper. Include quotes from various involved parties.
9. Press for a Report Covering the Impact of Current Facility Conditions on Health
Invite supporters to go to school board meetings dealing with budgets, green school programs, health, cleaning and maintenance, general planning, and so on. Argue for giving a high priority to cleaning and maintenance programs. Suggest that the school board assemble a task force to research the impact that current facility conditions have on student and teacher health and issue a formal report with recommendations for improvement. Get local press coverage when the report is released.
10. Make Your Voice Heard at School Board Meetings
If you can't establish a broader program, suggest that the school or university system start with a single facility or campus as an experiment. Develop a program in that facility and include measurements of results (consider using principles of Integrated Cleaning and Measurement or ICM from IEHA). Report on reductions in chemical and microbial contamination, and determine whether those reductions relate to sick absences. Get students involved in hand washing and general good hygienic behaviors. Interview students and parents on their attitude to the program and include interview results in the report. Use the results to argue for expansion of healthy school programs to other facilities.
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