According the U.S. Environmental protection Agency (EPA), more than half of schools in the United States have problems linked to unhealthy indoor air quality. Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism and children with asthma are especially vulnerable in buildings that have evidence of environmental hazards. Because many Boston students are affected by Asthma, since 2002, in compliance with a Boston City Council Ordinance, each school receives an Annual Environmental Audit to evaluate health and safety conditions such as leaks, mold, pests, chemical storage and cleanliness that can affect asthma, health and learning.
Schools can take action to ensure their building is maintained as a healthy environment by referencing the BPS Healthy Schools Environment Toolkit, which is full of BPS policies, points of contact at Facilities and best practices for environmental health and safety. See more resources below.
The District also has many policies in place that promote our schools to be healthy buildings for students and staff:
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- Green Cleaners Policy
- Mandatory System wide Recycling Program
- Asthma in Schools
- Infection Prevention and Control in School Settings
- Tobacco Free Environment Policy
- BPS/Boston Public Health Commission Environmental Inspection/Audit Program (City Ordinance 7.12.1-4)
- Student Safety / Health in School Shops, Laboratories and Classrooms 2012-2013
- Chemical Inventory “Right to Know” Law
All of these policies (or Circulars as they are called at BPS) are referenced and guidance for implementing the policies is outlined in the new BPS Healthy Schools Environment policy, a piece of the comprehensive District Health & Wellness Policy.
Boston Public Schools departments representing food, custodial services, health and safety, planning and engineering, health services, along with Boston’s Public Health Commission, come together each year to ensure that any major issues identified in the school Audits is taken care of immediately. Community partners, parents and asthma advocates partner with BPS to educate and build awareness about the importance of healthy schools.
Boston Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative (BHHSC), advocates for asthma-friendly schools and environmental policies in BPS in order to improve health and learning. BHHSC’s approach includes working with the school staff unions, building parent leadership and engagement in an active collaboration with the Boston Public Health Commission and Boston School department in a citywide Healthy Schools Task Force.
The BPS Healthy Schools Task Force (HST) meets quarterly and oversees policies to improve school environmental conditions.
BHHSC and HST advocate for healthy schools through various activities, including:
- Raising awareness and educating various stakeholders (teachers, custodians, nurses) about BPS green cleaning and environmental health policies
- Increasing communication between health providers, families and school nurses in order to increase the number of asthma action plans on file for asthmatic children in targeted schools in the BPS system
- Participating on the BPS District Wellness Council and leading the Healthy School Environments sub-committee
- Collaborating with Boston early learning centers, ABCD Head Start sites and private day cares to address the environmental health and indoor air quality issues impacting the 0-4 year old population
Healthy School Environment Champions
BPS Health & Wellness Department provides training and stipends for Wellness Champions to lead their school’s efforts to integrate or enhance specific health and wellness goals. In SY 2014-2015, there are ten schools that will focus on increasing awareness and improving conditions to promote Healthy School Environments – air quality, waste management, pest management, green cleaning, and more.
The 2014-2015 Healthy School Environment Wellness Champions are:
|Adams Elementary||Steve Venizelos|
|Blackstone Elementary||Kevin Moriarty|
|Comm Acad Sci Health (HS)||Mary White|
|Hale Elementary||Adam Bruno|
|Hale Elementary||Felicia Gay|
|Kennedy John F Elemtary||Anita Copper|
|Lee Academy||Ben Driscoll|
|Quincy Elementary||Ronnie Ito/ III CATO|
|Trotter Elementary||Laura Merdkhanian|
|Madison Park Technical Vocational High School||Bridget Hickson|
- BPS Healthy School Resource Toolkit
- BPS Healthy & Wellness Policy Implementation Guide
- Tips for Conducting an Environmental Walkthrough & HSE Action Plan Template
- Healthy School Tips for School Staff
- School Room & Area Environmental Audit Checklist
- Green Cleaning & Healthy Products For Healthy Schools Toolkits
- Healthy Purchasing for Schools Resource Guide
- Cleaning Effectively for a Healthy School Environment