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Introduction
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References
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0-06: School health and safety team
0-09: Inclusive process for policy development, communication
1-02: Communication among school, home, and health providers
1-03: Informing families about health/safety programs, policies
4-11: Crisis response team and plans
4-22: Exclusion from school for illness or injury
4-24: Reports to the public health department
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Children's Safety Network
Resources on child safety in school and on employed youth.
Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMS-C)
Resources available through their clearinghouse, including: Basic Emergency Lifesaving Skills (BELS): A Framework for Teaching Emergency Lifesaving Skills to Children and Adolescents.
Environmental Protection Agency
For information on daily air quality across the United States.
Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency - "Tools for Schools" including renovations
Environmental Protection Agency - Additional School-Specific Matters and Resources
Environmental Protection Agency - Exhaust Fumes
Environmental Protection Agency - School Buses
Maternal and Child Health Bureau; Health Resources and Services Administration
Includes programs, data and resources on health and safety issues for school children.
National Resource Center for Safe Schools
PADRE Foundation
Foundation for pediatric and adolescent education and research on diabetes. Offers school health protocols.
  > View All Chapter Related Links  
6-02 - Communicating safety policies
 

Communicate all safety policies to staff, students, and families. Notify parents and staff in advance of physical plant projects and other changes that might affect the health, safety, and well-being of students and staff. Inform staff, students, and families about unplanned incidents such as a chemical and biological exposure or exposure to certain communicable diseases.

   
Rationale
 

Knowledge of safety policies, such as student drop-off and pick-up areas or prohibition of weapons in school, is essential to compliance. Warning parents, students, and staff about projects that affect the physical environment (e.g., painting, pesticide spraying) allows persons with unusual sensitivities to be protected from harm. Having a plan to deal with an unforeseen environmental exposure reduces unnecessary delay between exposure and treatment, thereby optimizing health outcomes.

   
Commentary
 

Involve staff, students, and families in the development and revision of safety policies. Policies without clear parameters may be open to varying interpretation. Policies must be explicit, well-disseminated and explained to all those expected to abide by them. The existence of school health and safety teams with well-defined roles and clear reporting mechanisms can help clarify communication and improve the accuracy, approval, and acceptance of messages.

Projects that benefit from advanced notification include painting, renovation, pesticide application, and removal of mold or asbestos. Schools have a responsibility not only to minimize students' exposure but also to alert their families to the potential for exposure. Students with special health needs such as allergy or asthma who might be unusually susceptible can receive additional protection. When a school cannot predict an unusual environmental event, such as a chemical spill on a nearby highway, the school should consult with emergency personnel about the best ways to protect students (Guideline 4-11). School staff should notify students' families and health professionals of any such exposure and report the substance involved, signs and symptoms to watch for, and how to seek any necessary health care.

Adoption of a plan that addresses environmental concerns will assist the district in responding to them quickly and appropriately. Principles and goals of "risk communication" should be considered when designing a notification mechanism. This helps ensure that heath and safety messages are accurate and clearly understood by families, students, and staff. Parents with limited literacy or limited understanding of the English language must also be considered in this plan. The district should have knowledgeable personnel and/or consultants available to assist with investigations and to assist district personnel in developing the plan. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry provides information on various toxic substances and on principles to use when communicating the risk of these substances to the public.

   
REFERENCES
 

American Public Health Association. Creating healthier school facilities. Am J Public Health. 2001;91:494-495.

Etzel RA. Indoor air pollutants in homes and schools. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2001;48:1153-1165.

US Environmental Protection Agency. Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Washington DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2001. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/images/moldremediation.pdf.

US Environmental Protection Agency. IAQ Tools for School Kits. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2000. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/pubs.html.

 
          
 
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