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purpose of guidelines

The purpose of Health, Mental Health and Safety Guidelines for Schools is to help those who influence the health and safety of students and school staff while they are in school, on school grounds, on their way to or from school, and involved in school-sponsored activities. The guidelines recognize that the primary mission of schools is to educate students. Schools also have a responsibility for students’ health and safety while they are at school. By addressing health, mental health, and safety issues (including transportation and motor vehicle safety), schools can improve students’ academic performance today and contribute to their increased longevity and productivity long after they leave school.

Health, mental health, and safety, as defined here, are inextricably linked to student achievement. Poor nutrition, impaired vision or hearing, dental pain, sleep deficiency, substance abuse, anxiety about home life, anxiety about relations with peers, exposure to violence, and any unaddressed symptom are examples of health and safety issues associated with less than optimal achievement in school. Sometimes the association between achievement and health, mental health, and safety is obvious (e.g., an injury or illness that causes a low school attendance rate). At other times the association between student achievement and health, mental health, and safety is not easily observed (e.g., when a teacher’s health or mental health affects teaching and relationships
with students or when a student’s anxiety about a real or perceived threat of violence affects his/her attention to class work). Complementary to benefits
of optimizing health and safety to improve student achievement is the understanding that an educated populace is a beneficial factor for the health
and safety of the population.

Healthy People 2010
is the prevention agenda for the nation. It is designed to identify the most significant preventable threats to health and to establish national goals to reduce these threats. It should not be surprising that Healthy People 2010 includes many school-specific health objectives. There are 20 Healthy People 2010 objectives that are school-specific and these are listed in Appendix A. Increasing the number of students who complete high school is a Healthy People 2010 goal, as are increasing the number of schools with sound environmental policies and reducing school days missed as a result of asthma. The interwoven quality of educational achievement with health, mental health, and safety is one reason that the prevention, detection, and resolution of health and safety problems require cooperative efforts of students, their families, community agencies, and school personnel.

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