School Health Services
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- Prevention, Promotion and Protection
- School Health Essentials
- School Nursing Practice
- School-Based Health Centers in MN
Related MDH Programs
Prevention, Promotion and Protection
Minnesota Student Survey
The Minnesota Student Survey is an anonymous survey that is conducted every 3 years in public schools (including charter and tribal schools), alternative schools and juvenile correctional facilities. Survey participation is voluntary for school districts and students. The survey asks questions about activities, experiences and behaviors. Topics covered include tobacco, alcohol and drug use, school climate, physical activity, violence and safety, connections with school and family, health and other topics. Sexual activity questions are asked only in high school. The survey is administered by the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Why does sexual health and sexuality matter? It matters because our sexuality encompasses more than s-e-x. It's an important piece of who we are as humans at all ages, and it influences and is influenced by other aspects of our lives. The Minnesota Department of Health Sexual Health department can assist with many resources for schools and sexual health programming.
School Environmental Health refers to the hazards that may be found in and around school facilities. This can include indoor air pollutants, outdoor pollutants, hazardous substances, drinking water quality, food safety, and noise. A healthy physical school environment should reduce illnesses, improve comfort, and advance academic performance. Moreover, implementing a well-crafted plan can ensure compliance with various regulations. School staff should develop a School Environmental Health Plan. Key elements to review in the School Environmental Health Plan include cleaning and maintenance, chemicals and contaminants, mold and moisture, pests and pesticide, ventilation and filtration, sustainability, and outdoor concerns. MDH's School Environmental Health web portal provides guidance on 22 topic areas concerning school environmental health.
Ventilation is important for good indoor air quality (IAQ) and should be considered as part of a larger effort to provide a healthy school environment and reduce the risk of airborne spread of viruses and other contaminants.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have put together many resources and tools, listed below, to help schools.
These resources focus on the key strategies of bringing as much outdoor air into the school as possible; ensuring that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) settings are maximizing ventilation; and improving the level of air filtration as much as possible. ASHRAE and CDC provide specific guidance for school nurses offices and CDC has created an Interactive School Ventilation Tool to help schools learn how to optimize ventilation to reduce particles in classrooms. While these recommended actions cannot eliminate risks, they will reduce them by helping to lower the presence of airborne particles and aerosols.
School leaders are encouraged to create an action plan for clean indoor air in all buildings that will assess IAQ, review building areas at higher risk (e.g., school health offices, isolation rooms), and include HVAC inspections and maintenance, and plan for upgrade and improvements to indoor air systems.
School leaders should also communicate with their school communities about their clean indoor air plans and additional actions that can be taken by students, staff, and families to increase awareness, commitment, and participation in improving indoor air quality and health outcomes.
Resources and Guidance
- CDC: Ventilation in Schools and Childcare Programs
- CDC Ventilation in Buildings
- CDC: Interactive School Ventilation Tool
- EPA: Clean Air in Buildings Challenge Guidance to help building owners and operators improve indoor air quality and protect public health.
- MDH Indoor Air Considerations: COVID-19
All school staff are defined as mandated reporters in Minnesota. It is essential that school staff, including health services providers, understand when and how to make a report. The Minnesota Department of Human Services website has great resources to help understand the process. The mandated reporter brochure describes the role of the mandated reporter and what to expect during the process.
A list of county and tribal agencies to contact for reporting is provided for your use.
Safe and Supportive Schools
School health services play a vital role in improving school safety and climate. The Minnesota Department of Education School Safety Technical Assistance Center is dedicated to helping schools and community members develop safe and supportive learning environments, thereby increasing academic success for all students. Their website has great resources including model policies and training opportunities.
The Minnesota School Safety Center (MnSSC) in the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a variety resources and tools on its website to assist school leaders with emergency preparedness. The Minnesota Safety Center also offers several free training programs and classes to assist school districts with emergency planning.
School emergency planning helps school staff know how to assist students through a crisis situation. Knowing how to respond during a crisis will help everyone involved remain calm, understand their role and act as safely and efficiently as possible. It is important that emergency planning includes all hazards, risks and emergencies a school may encounter. Minnesota law requires all school districts and charter schools establish an emergency plan. The plan should include policy and procedures for prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
The law requires plans be developed cooperatively with all appropriate school stakeholders. School emergency plans must include five lock-down drills, five fire drills and one tornado drill per school year.
School Nurse Role and Expectations in Emergency Management
Often times, school health staff and especially school nurses have unique, highly specialized role in emergency management. School nurses should be included in emergency planning teams, not only to address the acute crisis but to careful plan for students with chronic health needs that are addressed through an IHP, 504 or IEP. The nurse should also ensure that all plans have careful steps for how to manage health needs with limited access to supplies, how to gain access to supplies or what can be kept in the classroom in case of emergency. The classroom teacher should keep a copy of the student's emergency plan with their emergency supplies.