Coalition for Healthier Schools, 2016.

Healthy schools help children grow and learn. But providing children with healthy places to learn is too often an afterthought—or not thought of at all. School facilities have been neglected for decades. Towards Healthy Schools: Reducing Risks to Children is the fourth in a series of triennial state of the states’ reports

from Healthy Schools Network and its partners in the Coalition for Healthier Schools, dating from 2006. Previous reports assessed state-by-state environmental health hazards at schools, offered compelling personal narratives from parents and teachers, and provided data needed to assess the subsequent impact on children’s health. The last report, Towards Healthy Schools 2015, went deeper into specific issues such as asthma, and fracking and well water, while also using federal poverty statistics—e.g., the number of children in a school eligible for free or reduced-price meals—as a proxy for poverty and to highlight essential inequities and injustices. It also highlighted how greener, cleaner, healthier schools promote attendance and achievement. Yet, no state publishes information regarding children at risk due to school and/or child care center environmental hazards. To drive home the national scope of the hidden environmental health crisis faced by children, this new report features published media reports on environmental conditions from every state in the nation. From Alabama, where Bay Minette parents threatened to keep their children home to avoid exposing them to asbestos, to Wyoming, where grass fires endangered students at South High, it is a disturbing summary, highlighting the fact that across the country teachers, parents, and guardians, and the children themselves, face numerous and serious unexamined and unaddressed risks to health and learning which are rarely acknowledged by public agencies.

In 2004, the Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program contracted with the Community Planning Workshop (CPW) at the University of Oregon to conduct a year-long evaluation of Oregon’s school siting process. The purpose of the evaluation was twofold: (1) to develop a better understanding
of the challenges and opportunities school districts and local governments experience when making school siting decisions; (2) to empower school districts and local governments to make more informed decisions about future school siting. This handbook is the culmination of that research and synthesizes many of the lessons learned.

As part of the study, CPW performed the following tasks:

Literature Review: Conducted an extensive review of literature about school siting issues.

Case Studies: Investigated the school siting practices of eight school districts around the state through site visits and interviews with school superintendents, school facility planners, local government planners, architects, and neighborhood groups. Administered a school transportation survey and conducted focus groups at four middle schools to learn more about how children get to and from school.

School Superintendent Survey: Created a survey, disseminated to school district superintendents, focusing on district needs and siting issues.

Oregon School Siting Forum: Held a statewide conference encouraging dialogue about school siting issues by a wide range of people, including school district personnel, architects, planners, health advocates, and neighborhood organizers.

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EPA, 2013.

This guide is intended for use by school officials and child care providers responsible for the maintenance and/or safety of school and child care facilities including the drinking water. The purpose of this guide is to describe the importance of implementing best management practices for drinking water in schools and child care facilities and how a school or child care facility would go about implementing these practices. This guide is specifically designed for schools and child care facilities that have their own well and, therefore, are classified as a public water system. This guide is not a regulation itself, nor does it change or substitute for those provisions and regulations. Thus, it does not impose legally binding requirements on EPA, states, public water systems, schools or child care facilities. This guide does not confer legal rights or impose legal obligations upon any member of the public. While EPA has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information in this guide the obligations of the regulated community are determined by statutes, regulations or other legally binding requirements. In the event of a conflict between the information in this guide and any statute or regulation, this document would not be controlling.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is water important?

Water is an essential nutrient that is vital to life.  Poor hydration can harm physical and mental performance.  Healthy and calorie-free, water is the perfect hydrating beverage and an ideal alternative to sugary drinks, such as soda.  When kids are thirsty, they should be reaching for water, not soda.
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Is this really an issue?  Aren't kids able to get a drink water in schools now?

Yes, unfortunately, this is an issue!  At first glance, people might think it a "no-brainer": of course kids can get water in schools.  But, looking more closely, the situation is worse than many think.  In California, a recent survey found that at least 40 percent of responding districts did not have access to free drinking water for students during school meals.  As new laws come into effect that rid schools of sodas and other unhealthy beverages, it is vital to make sure that the healthy alternatives are easy and convenient.  Ensuring that students have drinking water easily available and accessible is a key strategy to combating obesity and encouraging healthy habits.

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Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) (2015).

The criteria presented in this publication address how to design and construct a safe room that provides near-absolute protection for groups of individuals sent to a building or structure expecting it to be capable of providing them life-safety protection from wind, windborne debris, and flooding. This guidance interprets the new International Code Council® (ICC®) ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters [(ICC-500, produced in consensus with the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA)] design criteria and provides technical design guidance and emergency management considerations to individuals who are looking for “best-practices” that are above minimums in the codes and standards.

Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), (2015).

Every year, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme windstorms cause numerous fatalities and injuries, and cost millions of dollars worth of property damage throughout the United States. Most businesses and public buildings, even new ones constructed according to current building codes, do not provide adequate protection for occupants seeking refuge from these events. A Community Safe Room can provide “near-absolute protection” for many community members, when it is constructed in accordance with FEMA criteria. A growing number of these Safe Rooms have already saved lives in actual events.

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by T. R. Dunlap

Last week the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) had its annual conference in Kissimmee, Florida. Educational leaders from across the country gathered together at a beautiful resort for workshops on many topics facing public middle and high schools.

The event featured presenters who are on the cutting edge of educational research and administrative practice. Staff members from the Education Facilities Clearinghouse (EFC) were also in attendance. The EFC conducted a workshop on how school leaders can engage their communities by developing teams to conduct site assessments and to create emergency operations plans. These approaches to addressing school safety are critical. A number of the workshop attendees indicated that, as school administrators, they would make specific changes to their site assessment and emergency planning process as a result of the workshop. We at the EFC were very encouraged to know that these educational leaders will take steps to bolster the safety of their facilities and retool their operational planning for emergencies.

At this national conference, it was terrific to see school leaders gather together to address collaboratively the pressing issues schools encounter and to develop constructive ways to improve secondary education in this country. We must keep in mind how valuable organizations and conferences are to equip and enable leaders to do their jobs effectively. However, many school leaders cannot attend a professional conference or participate in a workshop with their peers. What resources are available for them? How can we ensure that all school leaders have the tools and resources available to make the most of their schools?

The EFC is here to help! We can come to your school. The EFC provides workshops for school leaders and staff at no cost. Learn more about the workshop opportunities we can provide your school for free.


At the recent national conference, many principals were curious about the free consulting services the EFC offers to improve public school facilities. The EFC works with schools across the United States to provide free technical assistance to make them a more safe, energy efficient, and clean space that fosters innovative teaching and learning. For more information on how the EFC can come to your school, watch this brief video.



Many school leaders identify facility needs as a top priority to improve the educational experience of their students. The mission of the EFC is to equip school leaders to make the most of their learning environments. The resources we provide to schools are indispensable. If you would like to discuss ways that we can help your school, contact the EFC today.

Dongying Li, William C. Sullivan.

Previous research has demonstrated positive associations between the greenness of high school land- scapes and school wide academic performance. We do not known, however, if green landscapes cause better performance or if the association between the two is a product of self-selection. If there is a causal relationship, the pathways through which green school landscapes affect student performance remain unclear. We hypothesize that views onto green landscapes help students recover from mental fatigue and stress. To test these hypotheses, we conducted a randomized controlled experiment with 94 high school students at five high schools. Participants were randomly assigned to classrooms without windows or with windows that opened onto a built space or a green space. Participants engaged in typical classroom activities followed by a break in the classroom to which they were assigned. Attentional functioning was measured using Digit Span Forward and Backwards. Physiological stress levels were measured by skin conductance, body temperature, pNN50 (the proportion of the number of pairs of successive NNs that differ by more than 50 ms divided by the total number of NNs) and LF/HF (the ratio between low- frequency peak and high frequency peak). Results demonstrate that classroom views to green landscapes cause significantly better performance on tests of attention and increase student’s recovery from stressful experiences. A lack of mediation effect demonstrates that attention restoration and stress recovery are two distinct processes. Implications for school site selection, design and renovation are discussed.

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California Department of Education, 2006

Childhood obesity has become an epidemic that is sweeping the nation. The American Heart Association’s report A Nation at Risk discusses the rapidly increasing incidence of obesity in the United States and notes “if childhood obesity continues to increase, it could . . . cause our current generation of children to become the first generation in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.”

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By C. Kenneth Tanner, 2015.

Architectural scholars have called for a complete working alternative to existing ideas about architecture in general.  Since 1997 the School Design & Planning Laboratory has sought a similar alternative for school architecture, including the total educational environment, and worked persistently toward this goal.  Hence, the objective of one primary cluster of SDPL research was to extend innovative ideas of these highly respected scholars to the field of educational architecture.  Findings from the body of research, as discussed in this document, have also been interlocked to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.  The purpose for effecting this association was to guide how we think about the physical environment’s capacity to motivate individuals, especially students in school environments.

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