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Research and Dissemination to Inform Policies, Processes, and Practice

Culture as Context

Social Determinants
of Health

Health Care Disparities

Focal Areas

Social & Emotional Climate

The social and emotional climate is promotion of a safe and supportive learning environment through attention to social and emotional development and psychosocial aspects of the learning experience. A positive social and emotional school climate fosters student engagement in activities; relationships with peers and adults that are respectful, trusting, and caring; and successful learning.

Safe Environment (Physical Environment)

Safe Environment (derived from Physical Environment in the WSCC model) focuses on the physical school building, the land on which it is located, and the areas surrounding it. A healthy school environment attends to physical conditions during normal operation as well as renovation, and addresses factors such as ventilation, pollution, lighting, noise, and temperature – as well as protecting students from physical threats and injuries (e.g. traffic, crime, hazardous materials, pollution).

Physical Education & Physical Activity

Physical Activity describes comprehensive strategies to facilitate student physical health, which includes both (a) engaging in planned and sequential teaching of the motor skills, knowledge, and behaviors needed for physical activity and fitness and (b) providing students with opportunity to be physically active throughout the day.

Nutrition Environment & Services

Nutrition Environment and Services includes facilitating healthy eating by providing appropriate food choices, education, and messages. The nutrition environment extends to all school places in which food and beverage access is available (e.g. cafeterias, vending machines, classrooms). School nutrition services provide meals that meet government nutrition standards and the school community supports a healthy nutrition environment.

Health Services

School Health Services staff and facilities are typically available to help all students with preventive care such as vision and hearing screening, as well as dealing with immediate injuries and first aid. In addition, school health services staff play a large role in the management of student chronic health conditions, including coordinating care and communicating with the student’s family and other health care providers.

Family Engagement

Family Engagement describes family-school partnerships to support the learning and health needs of students across student developmental periods, working together through shared responsibility of both school staff and families in actively supporting successful development of students.

Health Education

Health Education includes planned learning experiences and opportunities to gain information and skills needed to make healthy decisions, achieving health literacy, and adopting healthy behaviors in self and others. Comprehensive and effective school health education extends appropriately across developmental periods and is based on identified needs and provided in a variety of ways – such as direct instruction, patient visits, and public service announcements. It addresses issues such as personal health, physical activity, nutrition, mental & emotional health, sexual health, violence prevention, tobacco use, and alcohol & drug use.

Employee Wellness

Employee Wellness involves fostering health in all school staff, as healthy employees are more productive and better able to do their job in attending to student needs. Employee wellness approaches include programs and policies that embrace a continuum of prevention to intervention strategies, and offer personalized health programs such as stress mgt., improved physical health and nutrition, and risk reduction.

Behavioral Supports (Counseling, Psychological, & Social Services)

Behavioral Supports (i.e. Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services) is described as supporting the social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health of students, and extends along a continuum of prevention through intervention strategies that identify and address barriers to learning. School employed professionals such as school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers provide direct services to individual students and families as well as classes and schools as a whole. In addition, referral and consultation with community providers is important in the coordination of counseling, psychological, and social services.

Community Involvement

Community Involvement describes involving groups, organizations, and businesses within the community as important anchors to a school, creating partnerships, sharing resources, and volunteering to support student learning and health. Not only can schools benefit from these connections, but these benefits can be reciprocal such as when schools share facilities with the community (e.g. meeting spaces, library sharing) and coordinate to disseminate information about resources and services available within the community.

Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Components of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site or download a PDF version.

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